Cape Town: South Africa built a sizeable lead after reaching 65 for two against India at the close on day two of the first Test at Newlands on Saturday but must finish the match without pace bowler Dale Steyn who suffered another injury setback.
Hashim Amla (four not out) and nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada (two not out) will seek 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, who only returned to the side for this match after 14 months out with a shoulder injury, left the field having bowled 17.3 overs and went for scans on an injured heal.
South African team manager Mohammed Moosajee confirmed Steyn`s worst fears as he now faces four-six weeks on the sidelines with tissue damage after landing awkwardly in his delivery stride.
"Understandably he is disappointed, but he will try his best to recover as quickly as possible. You could see how much he was enjoying himself out there," Moosajee told reporters.
Being a bowler light will probably make South Africa rethink what is a good target to set India to win the game.
Aiden Markram (34) was the first wicket to fall having looked fluent 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 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 the attack to the South African seamers.
He had his fair share of luck, dropped at gully by Elgar off Steyn on 15 and offering a stumping chance to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock that was spurned.
Having been roughed up by a barrage of short-pitched bowling from the excellent Rabada (3-34), the latter finally ended Pandya’s stay as he induced an edge to De Kock.
"He is someone who is really promising and is bowling and batting well, and that makes a difference to the team because when you have a good all-rounder it improves the balance," India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said.
"He kept us in the game and got us two wickets at the end of the day as well."
The rest of the batsmen found it difficult to score against the fast and accurate home bowling with Pujara`s patient 26 from 91 balls the next highest score.
South Africa host India in three Tests this month with the next two in Pretoria and Johannesburg.