Pretoria: Debutant Lungi Ngidi took the key wicket of India captain Virat Kohli as South Africa closed in on victory in the second Test with the tourists reeling at 35 for three on a misbehaving wicket at the close on day four on Tuesday.
India are chasing 287 for victory to square the three-match series, but that looks a long way off on a wicket providing extreme variable bounce.
Cheteshwar Pujara (11) and Parthiv Patel (5) will resume on the final day, trying to find a way to score runs against a fired-up home seam attack getting plenty of assistance from the pitch.
Kohli, who scored a brilliant 153 in the first innings, would have been key to India’s plans in the run chase, but he was trapped lbw for five by an excellent delivery from Ngidi that came back into him sharply and kept low.
Ngidi, 21, had earlier bagged the wicket of opener Lokesh Rahul for four with his first delivery of the day, a loosener the batsman carved straight to Keshav Maharaj at point.
Murali Vijay (9) was the first batsman to fall, bowled by Kagiso Rabada from another ball that kept low.
India had worked their way back into the Test by bowling South Africa out for 258 in their second innings.
Starting the day on 90 for two, AB de Villiers (80) and Dean Elgar (61) put on 141 for the third wicket, a potentially match-winning partnership.
But De Villiers was one of three wickets for the excellent Mohammed Shami (four for 49) in the morning, followed by Elgar and Quinton de Kock (12).
Ishant Sharma (two for 40) and Jasprit Bumrah (three for 70) wrapped up the innings, despite a battling 48 from home captain Faf du Plessis.
South Africa 1st innings: 335
(A. Markram 94, Hashim Amla 82; I. Sharma 3/46, R. Ashwin 4/113)
India 1st innings: 307
(V. Kohli 153, M. Vijay 46; M. Morkel 4/60)
South Africa 2nd innings
A. Markram lbw J. Bumrah 1
D. Elgar c L. Rahul b M. Shami 61
H. Amla lbw J. Bumrah 1
AB de Villiers c P. Patel b M. Shami 80
Faf du Plessis c&b J. Bumrah 48
Q. de Kock c P. Patel b M Shami 12
V. Philander c M. Vijay b I. Sharma 26
K. Maharaj c P. Patel b I. Sharma 6
K. Rabada c V. Kohli b M. Shami 4
M. Morkel (not out) 10
L. Ngidi c M. Vijay b R. Ashwin 1
Extras (b-2, lb-5, w-1) 8
Total (all out, 91.3 overs) 258
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-3, 3-144, 4-151, 5-163, 6-209, 7-215, 8-245, 9-245.
Bowling: Ravichandran Ashwin 29.3-6-78-1; Jasprit Bumrah 20-3-70-3; Ishant Sharma 17-3-40-2; Mohammed Shami 16-3-49-4; Hardik Pandya 9-1-14-0.
India 2nd innings
M. Vijay b K. Rabada 9
L. Rahul c K. Maharaj b L. Ngidi 4
Cheteshwar Pujara (not out) 11
V. Kohli lbw L. Ngidi 5
Parthiv Patel (not out) 5
Extras (b-1) 1
Total (3 wkts, 23 overs) 35
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-16, 3-26.
To bat: R. Sharma, H. Pandya, R. Ashwin, M. Shami, J. Bumrah, I. Sharma
Bowling: Vernon Philander 6-3-6-0; Kagiso Rabada 5-2-9-1; Lungi Ngidi 6-2-14-2; Morne Morkel 5-3-4-0; Keshav Maharaj 1-0-1-0.