Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli shared an unbroken half-century stand after India lost two wickets in two balls on the second day of the second Test against South Africa on Sunday.
India, the world’s top-ranked cricket nation, were 80 for two at tea in reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 335 at SuperSport Park.
South Africa are chasing a second victory in the series after winning the first Test by 72 runs.
Vijay and Lokesh Rahul started solidly and put on 28 for the first wicket before Rahul was caught and bowled by Morne Morkel, with the bowler holding on to a firm drive as he followed through.
Cheteshwar Pujara was run out off the next ball.
He played Morkel to mid-on and set off for a run. New cap Lungi Ngidi made good ground, slid to pick up the ball and hit the stumps at the bowler’s end from a prone position.
Kohli started positively but he and Vijay were tied down by some accurate bowling on a slow pitch.
Earlier, South African captain Faf du Plessis made 63 before the hosts were bowled out for 335.
Du Plessis battled for 217 minutes and faced 142 balls before he was ninth man out, bowled when he went for a big hit against Ishant Sharma.
South Africa added 66 runs to their overnight 269 for six.
Sharma took two of the four wickets that fell, finishing with three for 46, while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took four for 113.
India dropped three catches, all off Ashwin. Kagiso Rabada, who made 11, was dropped by a diving Virat Kohli at slip when he had one, with the batsmen taking two runs. He was then put down at point off the next ball when Hardik Pandya was obstructed by fellow fieldsman Mohammed Shami.
Du Plessis was dropped by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel off Ashwin when he had 54.
Shami took his 100th Test wicket in his 29th Test when he had Maharaj caught behind to end a stubborn seventh wicket partnership of 31.