Cape Town: The South African pacers proved too hot to handle for India who were left tottering at 82 for seven in their second innings at tea on day four, chasing what now has become an improbable 208-run target in the series opener here.
Vernon Philander took 3-22 as Indian batsmen failed to apply themselves against quality fast bowling on a seaming and bouncy track.
The visitors need another 126 runs for victory with 48 overs remaining in the day's play. Twenty nine overs were bowled in the afternoon session which ended with the fall of Wrddhiman Saha (8).
Post lunch, India began their chase in circumspect fashion. Shikhar Dhawan (16) looked to make a quick start while Murali Vijay (13) struggled against Philander.
Vijay survived twice via DRS reviews for caught behind and lbw appeals. Vijay wasn't third time lucky though, caught behind off Philander in the 8th over as the slide began for India.
Six balls later, Dhawan was caught pulling much like the first innings, only this time off Morne Morkel (2-29). Four overs later, India were struggling at 39/3 as Cheteshwar Pujara (4) was caught behind off Morkel too.
Virat Kohli (28) and Rohit Sharma (10) stemmed the fall of wickets by adding 32 runs for the fourth wicket. After drinks though, Philander returned from the other end and trapped Kohli plumb in front.
India were desperately struggling thereafter. Keshav Maharaj dropped Sharma (on 9) off Kagiso Rabada (2-30) in the 23rd over, but the batsman didn't make this chance count. An over later, he played on off Philander.
First innings' hero Hardik Pandya (1) then gave slip catching practice off Rabada as India lost 7 wickets for 47 runs in the session. Saha fell at the stroke of tea, trapped lbw by Rabada. R Ashwin was batting on 1 not out at tea.
This was after Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah shared six wickets as South Africa were bowled out for 130 runs (41.2 overs) in their second innings at the stroke of lunch.
The hosts lost 65/8 in this morning session to lead by overall 207 runs. Shami took 3-28 while Bumrah returned figures of 3-39.
Starting from day two overnight 65/2, the slide began in the second over of the morning. Shami had Hashim Amla (4) caught at gully with Rohit Sharma taking a low catch. The decision went up to the TV umpire but he didn't find conclusive evidence to overturn the soft signal.
Four overs later, Shami sent back nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada (5), caught at second slip. In the 29th over then, when Bumrah had Faf du Plessis (0) caught behind off a snorter, South Africa were struggling at 82/5.
Bumrah also removed Quinton de Kock (8) as it became 92/6 and the collapse became imminent.
AB de Villiers (35) waged a lone battle at the other end but he just couldn't find anyone to support him as Shami trapped Vernon Philander (0) lbw to take 11/3 in six overs this morning.
South Africa crossed 100 in the 36th over as Maharaj (15) played a few strokes. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-33) then got down to action with the batsman caught behind in the 39th over.
Saha took his 10th catch of the Test when Morne Morkel (2) was caught behind off Kumar two overs later. This is an Indian record overseas and Saha went past MS Dhoni who had nine catches against Australia in his last Test at the MCG in 2014.
Bumrah completed South Africa's misery as de Villiers holed out in the deep in search of some quick runs, rounding up a dismal morning. Dale Steyn, batting despite a bruised ankle, was the unbeaten batsman.
On day one, South Africa were bowled out for 286 runs in the first innings with Bhuvneshwar taking 4-87. India were reduced to 28/3 at stumps.
On day two, India finished with 209 runs in their first innings, surrendering a 77-run lead. South Africa were 65/2 at stumps with an overall lead of 142 runs. Hardik Pandya single-handedly kept his side in contention with 93 runs off 95 balls and then took 2-17 as well. Day three was completely washed out due to persistent rain. (PTI)