Rishabh Pant scored a crucial half-century while skipper Virat Kohli was resolute in his defence as they took India to 130 for four at lunch after early morning blows on the third day of the series-deciding third Test in Cape Town on Thursday.
Pant was unbeaten on 51 off 60 balls while Kohli (28 batting off 127 balls) added only 14 runs to his overnight score of 14 as India's overall lead now stands at 143.
This was after Cheteshwar Pujara (9) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) were dismissed cheaply in the first half an hour.
However, the early setbacks didn't deter Pant from playing his natural game as he hit four boundaries and a six while adding 72 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket stand with his skipper, who showed remarkable composure in playing second fiddle to Pant, who went for the jugular as and when situation permitted.
Pant, who had received flak for his poor shot selection under pressure during the second Test, respected the good deliveries but wasn't shy of treating the bad ones with disdain. He was aggressive without being reckless, fearless without being careless.
A case in point was lofting left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj for a six over long-on in the penultimate over of the session, signalling his positive intent.
The best shot however was a square cut on the rise off Kagiso Rabada. A smashing cover drive off Marco Jansen was equally good.
However, it was another failure for Rahane and Pujara, who might well have played their last Tests for India.
Pujara was again cramped for room on the leg side and the tickle of his bat was brilliantly taken by Keegan Petersen at leg slip, diving to his right and snapping it up inches ahead of the ground.
In case of Rahane, Rabada bowled a terrific one which kicked from length and took his gloves and Dean Elgar at first slip caught it after keeper Kyle Verreynne had managed to tip it up with his gloves.