NAGPUR, India (AP) Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were among the wickets on Thursday as India pressed for victory in the third test after dismissing South Africa for a meagre 79.
South Africa was 32-2 in its second innings chasing 310 for victory after India's second innings folded in the interim for 173 in under two sessions.
The cushion of a 136-run first-innings lead gave the home side a lot of leeway since the highest team total in this low-scoring series, being played on spin-friendly pitches, was 215, scored by India in the first innings in Nagpur.
Ashwin had figures of 5-32 and Jadeja took 4-33 as the visiting side was dealt a serious blow in its quest to level the four-match series at 1-all.
Top-ranked South Africa, resuming on an overnight total of 11-2 in reply to India's first innings of 215, put up a disappointing show in its first innings.
Left-hander Jean-Paul Duminy was the only one to offer any resistance, with 35 runs off 65 balls, with two sixes and one boundary.
South Africa's previous lowest innings against India was 84 in Johannesburg in 2006. Thursday's score was also the lowest by any team against India, the previous record being 82 by Sri Lanka in Chandigarh in 1990.
South Africa's woes started early on the second morning when it lost opener Dean Elgar without adding to its overnight score. Ashwin struck in the first over of the day as he bowled four deliveries that turned viciously, then a straighter ball that Elgar edged on to the stumps.
Ashwin also dismissed Hashim Amla when the captain played too early and the ball found the back of the bat after hitting his arm. The ball bounced off wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha's shoulder and Ajinkya Rahane grabbed it in the slips.
The in-form AB de Villiers also played at a delivery early and Jadeja gleefully accepted the easy return catch off a leading edge as South Africa fell to 12-5, the lowest ever score at which it lost half its side in a test match.
Duminy, who was dropped by Virat Kohli at slip off Ashwin on 13, prolonged the innings with a mix of caution and aggression. He was not averse to jumping out of the crease and hit two impressive sixes over wide long-on off Jadeja.
Faf du Plessis looked promising in his short stay at the wicket before he was bowled by Jadeja when he tried to hit the ball over mid-on, but played the wrong line.
Duminy was left in the company of tailenders very soon and the innings ended after just 92 minutes Thursday.
''We were disciplined this morning and it's the same thing we will have to apply tomorrow morning as well,'' Ashwin said. ''The wicket is getting a little bit slower and we need to try and get the batsmen on the bounce and flight. It's going to be different in the second innings and we've got to be very patient.''
India played positively in its second innings after losing opener Murali Vijay early on as he was caught in the slips off Morne Morkel.
Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara played useful knocks of 39 and 31.
Pujara was bowled by Duminy while Dhawan tried a reverse-sweep and was caught behind off leg-spinner Imran Tahir who grabbed his second five-for in 19 tests but India still had enough on the board to make a charge toward a winning lead.
''I think the Indian spinners have landed the ball more consistently than our spinners, and asked questions for a longer period of time,'' South Africa coach Russell Domingo said. ''We've beaten the bat and given away the cheap single, and they haven't. That has been the difference between the two sets of spinners.''