KOLKATA, India - South Africa rallied late in the day yesterday after centuries from Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar looked like destroying their chances of a first series victory in India for a decade.
Sehwag tore into the South African attack in the second and final Test with 165 from 174 balls while Tendulkar (106) extended his world record of Test centuries to 47.
The pair added 249 for the third wicket as India cruised to 331 for two at one stage before South Africa lifted their tempo in similar fashion to the first Test to trigger an Indian collapse in the final session.
India lost both the century makers and Subramaniam Badrinath (1) in the space of four runs to finish the day on 342 for five in reply to 296.
South Africa, who won the first Test by an innings, need to win the series to reclaim the world No 1 ranking from India.
"I think those last three wickets, out of which two were really big wickets, have set us up for a good day (today)," said Proteas coach Corrie van Zyl.
The two batsmen at the crease were Vangipurappu Laxman (9) and nightwatchman Amit Mishra (1), with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni the only recognised batsman still left.
Sehwag recorded his 19th Test century and the second on the trot as he lashed 23 fours and two sixes in an audacious display.
"I think it is unsettling for everybody. The fact that he scores very quickly. obviously he gets the crowd behind him, all of that is unsettling," Van Zyl said.
Tendulkar played the role of elder statesman, patiently rotating the strike to score his fourth Test hundred in as many games.
Sehwag was dropped by JP Duminy at slip on 47 and stand-in wicketkeeper AB de Villiers missed a stumping on 129 before he was caught off Duminy by Ashwell Prince.
Tendulkar was caught by Jacques Kallis at slip off Paul Harris and Dale Steyn bowled Badrinath. - Reuters