DURBAN – Duanne Olivier stuck the knife in, and Zubayr Hamza and Sarel Erwee did their best to twist it for South Africa A in Bengaluru on Saturday.
All that led to the tourists enjoying their most encouraging day of the series, and restore hope of salvaging a share of the spoils with India A.
The day began with India well set on 322/4, with Hanuma Vihari seemingly keen to bat on and on.
But Olivier had other ideas for his Saturday morning as he snatched five wickets in just 18 deliveries to bowl out India for 345, the Knights paceman ending with 6/63.
No one had seen that coming, as Vihari fell for 148, and everything crumbled below him.
While the KCSA Ground crowd was still absorbing that frenetic start to proceedings, Mohammed Siraj rushed through the defences of Pieter Malan with the first ball of the innings.
Needing a strong start, Erwee and Hamza rolled up their sleeves and dug in.
There was fortune along the way, with Hamza dropped by Vihari, but there was also plenty of fine strokeplay.
Hamza was the more attacking, his 93 coming off just 125 balls.
His change of gear would have taken India by pleasant surprise, as it forced spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to bring out all his tricks in an absorbing contest between spin and stroke-play.
Chahal did eventually have his man, caught sharply at slip for 93.
Hamza would have been most disappointed not to breach three figures, but he laid a solid platform for the middle-order.
Erwee, who got to his half-century in typically stubborn fashion, tried to up the tempo once Hamza had gone. But a quicker, flatter offering from Chahal was missed by his attempted sweep, and he was adjudged leg-before for 58.
Rassie van der Dussen (18) and the in-form Rudi Second (35) took SA A from 163/3 to 219 just after tea, when bad light closed in.
Over an hour was lost, and stumps was eventually called, with the visitors left cursing the amount of time they lost in their pursuit for parity in the series.