PRETORIA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - India seamer Mohammed Shami took three crucial wickets but South Africa took their lead to 201 runs at lunch on the fourth day of the second test in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The home side went to the interval on 173 for five, with captain Faf du Plessis (12 not out) and Vernon Philander (three not out) at the crease.
On a wicket more similar to Indian conditions than those typically found in South Africa, it has been a hard slog for the batsmen and the tourists will feel very much in the game.
There is variable bounce, plenty of turn and the pitch is still on the slow side as South Africa aim to protect a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
India’s rally came after an excellent spell of seam bowling from Shami whose figures were 3-38.
The home side resumed on 90 for two. Positive batting from AB de Villiers in the first hour took him to 80 before a rising delivery from Shami forced an edge to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.
De Villiers had put on 141 for the third wicket with opener Dean Elgar, who rode his luck to a half-century before he found Lokesh Rahul in the deep with a well-timed pull shot off Shami to fall for 61.
Quinton de Kock (12) looks completely out of sorts and after edging three balls in a row past the slips for four, his luck ran out and he tickled a Shami delivery to Patel.
South Africa seamer Morne Morkel suggested on Monday evening that chasing anything over 250 would be difficult for India, but with visiting skipper Virat Kohli coming off 153 in the first innings and looking in such good form, the hosts will be looking at 300 and above.
Kohli will have to watch his behaviour for the rest of the test after he was fined 25 percent of his match fee and received one demerit point for repeatedly complaining to umpire Michael Gough about a damp ball following a rain delay on Monday. (Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)