Rain and bad light once again made their presence felt and play had to be called off early with South Africa on 299 on five and trailing by 35 runs. At stumps, Jacques Kallis was batting on 78 with night watchman Dale Steyn yet to open his account.
Earlier, India came out all guns blazing on the third morning and claimed three wickets in the first session to pull the game back, until Kallis and AB de Villiers came together and stitched a partnership.
In the fourth over of the day, South Africa survived an early scare as Robin Petersen who was batting fluently survived a stumping off Ravindra Jadeja while on 53. But a breakthrough was not far away as Shikhar Dhawan took an exceptional catch to dismiss Graeme Smith couple of overs later when the SA captain skied Jadeja.
With the opening stand halted at 103, Hashim Amla made his way to the middle. But 10 runs later, Mohammed Shami knocked back Amla’s off-stump to bring Jacques Kallis to the crease for the 280th time in the longest format of the game. The legendary all-rounder, who is playing his last Test, was welcomed to the middle with a guard of honour by the Indians and the Umpires. However, SA’s woes continued as on the next ball, Petersen edged Jadeja to Murali Vijay who claimed sharp in the slips.
The wicket brought AB de Villiers out to the middle to join forces with the experienced campaigner and they tried stabilising the innings after the fall of three quick wickets. No strangers to such situations, the pair rebuild the innings at a steady pace. The duo took the hosts to lunch on 181 for three. The fielding by the Indians was once again topnotch, but the bowlers weren’t able to create as many chances as the visitors would have liked in the first session.
The SA middle-order batsmen kept the momentum going into the post-lunch session. Early in the second session, de Villiers sent Shami to the boundary twice in an over and also brought up his half-century with a couple to fine-leg. In the next over, Kallis claimed two successive boundaries through the covers off Zaheer.
Scoring at a quicker pace than his partner, de Villiers, who has been in good nick, kept the scoreboard ticking as he made his way 74. The wicketkeeper-batsman had stepped out and he had reverse swept while he was on song, until a Jadeja delivery turned and took the edge off de Villiers’ willow and was snapped at first slip by Virat Kohli. With the partnership broken for 127, JP Duminy took guard to carry the innings forward with Kallis.
Batting patiently, Kallis brought up his 59th Test 50 – his sixth against India – with a boundary through point off Jadeja. Three balls later, he brought up the team’s 250 with a single to mid-wicket with Duminy at the other end. As they kept chipping away at the deficit, they took SA to 267 for four at tea.
Although the Indians were able to curtail the flow of runs as the session progressed, wickets remained elusive.
With SA trailing by 67 runs, the visitors’ hunt for wickets continued into the third session. The bowlers toiled hard, but the pacers did not have much to show for the effort in the wickets column. While Jadeja with his left-arm spin got purchase from the wicket, Rohit Sharma too shared the workload and bowled a few economical overs.
Dhoni delayed the use of the new ball and persisted with spin from one end. With bad light threatening to curtail play, the visitors looked for breakthroughs. It was once again Jadeja who halted the developing partnership. He trapped Duminy leg-before to claim his fourth scalp and end the partnership for 58. SA then sent in Steyn. Shortly thereafter, rain interrupted the game and it could not be resumed for the day.