The visitors were 385 for 8 in 118 overs, trailing India by 117 runs.
Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock kept the skilful Indian spinners at bay with memorable hundreds, orchestrating South Africa’s spirited counter-offensive against the fancied hosts in the series-opening Test here on Friday.
South Africa were reeling at 39 for three before the start of day three and Indian spinners were expected to run through the opposition. But Elgar (160 off 287) thwarted their plans with his 12th Test hundred, which also made him the first South African to reach three figures in India since Hashim Amla in 2010.
He got valuable support from skipper Faf du Plessis (55) and Quinton de Kock, whose aggressive knock of 111 off 163 balls took South Africa closer to India’s first innings total of 502.