South Africa built a sizeable second-innings lead after reaching 65 for two against India at the close on day two of the opening test at Newlands on Saturday but were sweating over another potential injury blow for experienced seamer Dale Steyn.
Hashim Amla (four not out) and night-watchman Kagiso Rabada (two not out) will seek on day three to extend the home side’s advantage of 142 runs with eight second innings wickets remaining after they bowled India out for 209 on a lively wicket offering plenty of assistance for the bowlers.
Steyn (2-51) left the field during the innings having bowled 17.3 overs and went for scans on a bruised heel. He was later seen limping as he came back to the ground and his participation in the rest of the match -- and the series -- is in doubt.
Steyn returned to test cricket for the match after 14 months on the sidelines with a career-threatening shoulder injury.
South Africa's Aiden Markram (34) was the first wicket to fall in their second innings, having looked fluent at the crease until he top-edged a rising delivery from Hardik Pandya (2-17) to Bhuvneshwar Kumar at a deep point.
Dean Elgar (25) was scratchy throughout his stay at the crease and became Pandya’s second victim when he edged to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Pandya earlier ensured India stayed in the contest with a brilliant, fighting 93 from 95 balls, including 14 fours and a six as he alone provided resistance to the venomous home attack.
The all-rounder had watched as his side slipped to 92 for seven but instead of playing for survival, Pandya took to the attack against the South African seamers.
He had his fair share of luck, dropped at gully by Elgar off Steyn when he had 15 and then providing a stumping chance for wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock that was spurned.
Having been roughed up by a barrage of short-pitch bowling from the excellent Rabada (3-34), the latter ended Pandya’s stay at the wicket as he induced an edge to De Kock.
The rest of the batsmen found it difficult to score against the fast, accurate home bowling.
Cheteshwar Pujara led a stout rearguard of a different kind in the morning session, reaching 26 from 91 balls at lunch, but was out first ball after the interval as he edged a Vernon Philander (3-33) delivery to Faf du Plessis at second slip.
Kumar (25) was the only other India player to get past 20 before he nicked a Morne Morkel (2-57) delivery to De Kock.
South Africa host India in three tests this month with the next two to be played in Pretoria and Johannesburg.