Dale Steyn took six wickets as India slumped to 334 all out in their first innings on day two of the second Test at the Kingsmead here on Friday. South Africa were 82 for no loss and trailed India by 252 runs at stumps.
The Indian batsmen were all at sea against the reverse swing of Steyn. After removing the top-order cheaply before tea, the South African pacer returned to dismiss three more lower-order batsmen as India lost their last five wickets for just 14 runs.
After losing Cheteshwar Pujara (70), Murali Vijay (97) and Rohit Sharma (0) in quick succession, Virat Kohli (46) and Ajinkya Rahane (51 not out) strung together a 66-run partnership for the fifth wicket bringing the Indians back into the game.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (24) and Rahane added another 55 runs for the sixth wicket. However, once the Indian captain fell, Indian batting collapsed with Ravindra Jadeja (0), Zaheer Khan (0), Ishant Sharma (4) and Mohammad Shami (1) not even putting up a fight.
South African openers Graeme Smith (35 batting) and Alvaro Petersen (46 batting) raced to 82 for no loss and looked in total control.
They were hardly troubled by the Indian pacers, but there will be some joy for Indian spinners as Jadeja managed to extract some spin from the Kingsmead deck.
Earlier, weather continued to play spoilsport as rain delayed the start of second day's play by three hours, prompting the two teams to take early lunch. Bad light had also forced an end to the first day's play with India at 181 for one.
And when play resumed late on the second day, three quick strikes from Steyn put India on the backfoot. From 181/1, India were reduced to 199 for four in the space of seven overs.
The session completely belonged to the Proteas as they picked up four wickets for 90 runs. Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 23 and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was yet to open his account at the tea break.
Overnight batsmen Vijay and Pujara, who were in complete control of the game Thursday, had their nervous moments against Steyn on the second day.
Steyn bowled full steam and got his reward as Pujara went forward for a drive and A B de Villiers made no mistake behind the stumps.
The South African pace spearhead struck twice in the next over removing Vijay and Rohit Sharma in successive deliveries.
Vijay, who had worked hard for his 97, tried to fend a short ball at his body but hit his top hand to the keeper, who took a good catch diving to his left. Rohit's poor form in the series continued as he fell for a duck trying to leave the ball but lost his middle stump.
Both Rahane and Kohli played fluently but India again suffered a set-back shortly before tea as Kohli tried to play a delivery from Morkel through fine-leg only to have an acrobatic De Villiers taking another stunner behind the wicket.