Aiden Markram fell agonisingly short of a third Test century but South Africa remained in the ascendancy, going to tea on 182/2.
Hashim Amla, who’d survived a chance to Indian wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel on, was on 35 and AB de Villiers on 16.
Indian off-spinner Ravi Ashwin was the sole wicket taker for the tourists, dismissing both South African openers, while there was also concern when Mohammed Shami left the field after the completion of his eighth over clutching the back of his neck.
Markram was in superb touch on his home ground, where unlike Newlands a week ago he could count on the ball not seaming off the surface and was thus secure in defence knowing all he had to do was get into line and counter any disconcerting bounce.
His shotmaking was of the highest quality, with his driving off both back and front foot, crisp and at times played with a lot of panache. His pulling was strong in the morning session, but he got into a couple of uncomfortable positions during one over from Jasprit Bumrah after lunch, misjudging one pull shot that feel short of mid-on, while a few balls later a top edge flew over the ‘keeper’s head for four.
Nevertheless he, in combination with Dean Elgar was able to provide South Africa with an excellent start after Faf du Plessis had won the toss and chosen to bat. Elgar struggled throughout his innings, lacking rhythm and timing, but was just starting to look settled when one from Ashwin, turned and bounced deceiving the left-hander who was caught between wanting drive and defend, ultimately did neither providing Murali Vijay with a simple catch at silly point after making 31.
Markram was dismissed trying to cut a ball that was too close to him, getting a thin edge that Patel did well to hang onto. Markram did review the umpire’s decision, as he’d struck his pad with the inside edge of his bat at the same time as touching the ball. His innings of 94 – the second time he’d been dismissed in the 90s in his short Test career – lasted just over three hours and saw him face 150 balls and hit 15 fours.
Amla survived a chance down the legside off Ishant Sharma with Patel getting both gloves to the ball but spilling the chance.