An assured unbeaten 81 by Jacques Kallis put South Africa in command on the first day of the deciding third Test against India at Newlands on Sunday.
The chunky experienced all-rounder came to the crease with the hosts struggling on 34 for two but he batted through the rest of the day to lift them to 232 for four at the close.
Ashwell Prince was unbeaten on 28 after the pair put together an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 68, frustrating top-ranked India who are bidding to win their first test series in South Africa.
Kallis earlier shared partnerships of 72 for the third wicket with Hashim Amla and 58 for the fourth with AB de Villiers as South Africa responded well after being sent into bat under overcast skies.
“Jacques has probably been the key to our team for 15 years now,” Amla told reporters. “On a testing pitch there’s always going to be playing and missing. He showed his class today, kept the innings together and played really well.”
India fast bowler Zaheer Khan made an early breakthrough when he trapped Graeme Smith lbw for six, the sixth time the left-arm seamer has dismissed the South Africa captain in nine Tests.
Table Mountain was hidden behind clouds and there were two rain delays, with 85 minutes lost before lunch and another 27 before tea.
Opening batsman Alviro Petersen fell for 21, edging a drive off Ishant Sharma into the gloves of wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Amla was in an adventurous mood after the second rain delay, scoring 37 runs off 32 balls to reach 59 before he hooked Shanthakumaran Sreesanth into the hands of Cheteshwar Pujara at deep square-leg.
South Africa had limped to 106 for three but gutsy batting from Kallis and De Villiers took them to tea without further loss.
The clouds cleared after the interval and South Africa batted in bright sunshine for much of an extended final session but De Villiers failed to cash in as the pitch flattened out, caught behind for 26 by Dhoni off Sreesanth.
Kallis, who scored his maiden Test double century in the first Test in Centurion, struck six fours off 169 balls and never looked in serious trouble in the testing conditions.
Prince was also in positive mood as he hit three early boundaries before withdrawing into his shell as stumps approached.
Sreesanth was the most successful India bowler with figures of two for 70 in 21 overs.
“There is not much pace in the pitch, but if you hit the right target there is a bit in the wicket. Zak (Zaheer) and Ishant are bowling really well,” Sreesanth said.
“All I have to do is cut down the boundary balls, not give runs and help them.
“It was helpful conditions but they’re leaving the ball really well. Let’s see how long they can survive because we should get a couple of breakthroughs with the new ball. We have to stick to our basics, in any form of cricket patience is the key.”
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