NAGPUR - India seized control of the third Test in Nagpur on Thursday after South Africa, shot out for a record low of 79, fumbled again in their chase of a tough target.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin finished with five for 32 and Jadeja took four for 33 on a dusty surface at the VCA stadium to bowl South Africa out in 33.1 overs, giving India a first-innings lead of 136 runs. India were themselves dismissed for 173 runs in their second knock, setting the top-ranked Proteas an improbable target of 310 on a pitch where the ball is turning sharply and keeping low. South Africa, needing a win to level the four-Test series, ended the second day’s play on 32 for two, with Dean Elgar unbeaten on 10 and skipper Hashim Amla on three.

The tourists will start the third day requiring 278 runs more on a dicey pitch that has already claimed 32 wickets over the first two days — 20 of them on Thursday itself. Targets of over 300 runs have been chased successfully just once on Indian soil — by the home team which made 387-4 to defeat England in Chennai in 2008. Starting the day at 11-2, the Proteas suffered a sensational collapse as they lost three wickets for one run in the first four overs to slip to 12-5. The world’s number one Test side were at that stage in danger of falling below their lowest ever total of 30, but a defiant 35 by JP Duminy saved them the blushes. But South Africa’s meagre score was the lowest total by any team against India, coming in below Sri Lanka’s 82 in Chandigarh in 1990.

Proteas’ coach Russell Domingo refused to criticise the pitch conditions and insisted all was not lost for the tourists yet. “Some strange things have happened in this game before,” Domingo said. “We are obviously a long way behind in this Test at the moment, but we are not discounting ourselves just yet. “If you’re winning the series, it is easy to criticise the pitch, but when you’re behind in the series, it is difficult to do so. “You have to give India credit. They have prepared wickets that suit their style of play and their spinners have been really good. They have bowled outstandingly well and we have not batted as well as we can.”

Amla’s poor run in the series continued when he gloved an intended sweep off Ashwin to Ajinkya Rahane in the slips after the ball bounced off the wicket-keeper.

Amla, who scored 43, 0 and seven in the three previous innings, managed just a single run this time before walking off even before the umpire gave him out. Dangerman AB de Villiers failed to score while Faf du Plessis was bowled for 10 when the batsman attempted an ugly heave and missed the line of the ball.

Duminy, who hit two sixes off Jadeja, was ninth out when he was trapped leg-before by leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who was required to bowl just three overs in the entire innings. When India batted a second time, Shikhar Dhawan (39) and Cheteshwar Pujara (31) showed the way to tackle the turning ball by adding 44 for the second wicket. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who was surprisingly kept out of the attack till the 25th over as India moved to 82-2, picked up five wickets for 38 runs to restrict the Indian innings. From a comfortable 97-2, India slipped to 108-5 before being all out in the post-tea session. The tourists, who lost the first Test in Mohali before the rain-hit second game in Bangalore was drawn, need a win to take the series into the decider in New Delhi starting December 3.

Scoreboard

INDIA 1ST INNINGS: 215

SOUTH AFRICA 1ST INNINGS:

(Overnight: 11-2):

D. Elgar b Ashwin 7

S. van Zyl c Rahane b Ashwin 0

I. Tahir b Jadeja 4

H. Amla c Rahane b Ashwin 1

AB de Villiers c and b Jadeja 0

F. du Plessis b Jadeja 10

JP Duminy lbw b Mishra 35

D. Vilas b Jadeja 1

S. Harmer b Ashwin 13

K. Rabada not out 6

M. Morkel c and b Ashwin 1

EXTRAS: (lb1) 1

TOTAL: (all out, 33.1) 79

FOW: 1-4, 2-9, 3-11, 4-12, 5-12, 6-35, 7-47, 8-66, 9-76, 10-79.

BOWLING: I. Sharma 2-1-4-0, Ashwin 16.1-6-32-5, Jadeja 12-3-33-4, Mishra 3-0-9-1.

INDIA 2ND INNINGS:

M. Vijay c Amla b Morkel 5

S. Dhawan c Vilas b Tahir 39

C. Pujara b Duminy 31

V. Kohli c du Plessis b Tahi r16

A. Rahane c Duminy b Tahir 9

R. Sharma c Elgar b Morkel 23

W. Saha c Amla b Tahir 7

R. Jadeja b Harmer 5

R. Ashwin lbw b Morkel 7

A. Mishra b Tahir 14

I. Sharma not out 1

EXTRAS: (b8, lb5, nb3) 16

TOTAL: (all out, 46.3 overs) 173

FOW: 1-8, 2-52, 3-97, 4-102, 5-108, 6-122, 7-128, 8-150, 9-171, 10-173.

BOWLING: Morkel 10-5-19-3, Harmer 18-3-64-1, Rabada 5-1-15-0, Duminy 2-0-24-1, Tahir 11.3-2-38-5.

SOUTH AFRICA 2ND INNINGS:

D. Elgar not out 10

S. van Zyl c R. Sharma b Ashwin 5

I. Tahir lbw b Mishra 8

H. Amla not out 3

EXTRAS: (b4, lb1, nb1) 6

TOTAL: (for two wickets, 14 overs) 32

FOW: 1-17, 2-29.

BOWLING: I. Sharma 3-1-6-0, Ashwin 6-2-12-1, Jadeja 4-2-6-0, Mishra 1-0-3-1.

TOSS: India

UMPIRES: Ian Gould (ENG) and Bruce Oxenford (AUS)

TV UMPIRE: Anil Chaudhary (IND)

MATCH REFEREE: Jeff Crowe (NZL)