Dean Elgar batted positively and raised his first half-century in India BCCI

Few would have seen it coming, especially after South Africa's top-order failure on the second evening, but Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis put on the sort of partnership that'd change the mood of the dressing room. For a while, their 90-run association also forced India to constantly rethink their plans.

The hosts had come in with the ploy of attacking with spin (R Ashwin) and seam (Ishant Sharma) in tandem. For the first half an hour or so, it went according to what they'd envisaged. Ishant had Bavuma nicking through the slip cordon in the first over, but quickly changed to a more straighter line - a line that has made him more potent in the subcontinent. The move paid quick dividends with Bavuma caught in the crease against a grubber that also darted in. Caught plumb in front, he departed without bothering a review.

That brought in South Africa's skipper, who after a quiet ten-ball start, changed gears. Sweeping Ashwin and flicking Mohammed Shami, his first three scoring shots were all boundaries. Elgar recognised the shift in momentum and kept it up at his end as well, lofting Ashwin for a boundary as well. With pressure mounting on Ashwin, another lofted six by du Plessis forced a mini-conference between bowler, captain and vice-captain. Changes of fields were countered by watchful singles and sweeps which kept the partnership rattling along at a good clip.

Both batsmen registered their highest scores in India with Elgar getting past fifty as well forcing Kohli to go even to the part-time spin of Hanuma Vihari at one point. One such change of plan, with Jadeja moving to over the stumps brought about an outside edge from Elgar, on 74, but Wriddhiman Saha put down a tough chance.

Ishant Sharma, India's best bowler of the session, posed far tougher questions to both well-set batsmen in his second spell just before the break with uneven bounce coming into play. But both batsmen managed to see it through with the promise of continuing the fight after Lunch.

Brief Scores: India 502/7 decl (Mayank Agarwal 215, Rohit Sharma 176) lead South Africa 153/4 (Dean Elgar 76*, Faf du Plessis 48*; R Ashwin 2-51) by 349 runs.