Cheteshwar Pujara slammed a sparkling unbeaten 135 as India gained firm control of the first cricket Test against South Africa with the top-order showing remarkable application to give the visitors a substantial overall lead of 320 here today.
The Indians first bundled out the hosts for 244 for a slender first innings lead of 36 runs and then batted with purpose and maturity to reach 284 for two at close on an eventful third day's play with Pujara again showing his apetite for a big score with an unbeaten knock of The 25-year-old Pujara notched up his sixth Test century while the in-form Virat Kohli is looking good for another big score as he is batting on 77.
The duo put on 191 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand in only 44.1 overs as South Africa were dealt with a telling blow of Morne Morkel being ruled out of the match due to a ligament tear in his ankle while fielding.
Pujara, who was dropped on 51 by leggie Imran Tahir off his own bowling, made full use of the reprieve as he hit 18 boundaries in 221 balls. Unlike first innings, Kohli played the second fiddle hitting eight fours off 132 balls as South African captain Graeme Smith couldn't devise a strategy to get the duo out.
With two full days left in the game, the visitors will now try to extend the lead further by piling up some quick runs and then hope to dismiss the Proteas who will have to bat last on a deteriorating Wanderers track.
In the morning, veteran Zaheer Khan (4/88) took three of the remaining four wickets as South Africa could add only 31 runs to their overnight score of 213 for six.
Zaheer now has 299 wickets in Test matches and will need only one more to become the fourth Indian bowler after Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to enter the '300-club'.
Ishant Sharma also picked up a wicket today to end up with impressive figures of four for 79.