CAPE TOWN, Jan 3 (IANS): Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir helped India overcome a poor start in their first innings against South Africa on the second day of the third cricket Test here Monday.
Gambhir was unbeaten on 65 and Tendulkar was one short of his 60th Test fifty as India ended the day at 142 for two in the first innings, still trailing by 220 runs at the Newlands Stadium.
South Africa were bowled out for 362 runs shortly after lunch after Jacques Kallis (161) struck his 39th Test hundred.
India lost opener Virender Sehwag (13) and Rahul Dravid (5) early, but Gambhir and Tendulkar led the fight-back with their unbroken 114-run stand for the third wicket.
India's reply started on a poor note as Sehwag departed in the seventh over after he drove Dale Steyn to Graeme Smith in the covers. Rahul Dravid's poor form in the series continued as he was run out in the 11th over with a direct throw from A.B. de Villiers, who dropped Gambhir off Lonwabo Tsotsobe on the same delivery at gully. But de Villiers did well to recover and his direct throw found Dravid short of the crease.
Gambhir made the best of the life given to him by de Villiers, but faced some anxious moments as he struggled to get used to the pace of the track. Tendulkar also played a composed knock and the duo's 100-run partnership came up in 193 balls.
Gambhir struck eight fours in his 159 ball stay while Tendulkar smashed four in his 106 ball knock.
Earlier in the day, S. Sreesanth bowled brilliantly to claim five wickets, but Kallis stood firm with his 39th Test century.
Kallis hit 19 fours in his 291 ball innings and batted exceptionally well with the tail after South Africa were reduced to 283 for eight. Kallis added 27 runs with Paul Harris (8) for the ninth wicket and another 52 runs for the last wicket with Tsotsobe (8 not out) to frustrate the Indians.
Resuming at 232 for four, South Africa added 32 runs before India struck with the second new ball through Sreesanth, who dismissed Prince and Mark Boucher off successive deliveries.
Sreesanth crashed through the stumps of left-handed Prince, who scored 47 in 100 balls, with a swinging delivery that moved in a long way to find the way between bat and pad.
Boucher then edged an away going delivery to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Kallis was unfazed at the other end showed how he has mastered the conditions when he struck Sreesanth in his next over for two beautifully-timed fours off consecutive balls.
Zaheer Khan (2-82) got rid of Dale Steyn with a bouncer bowled from round the stumps. Steyn just managed to put up his bat and the ball went straight to Cheteshwar Pujara at gully.
Kallis reached his century, second of the series, and sixth of the year.
Sreesanth took his third wicket of day when Morkel, after managing to keep the rampaging fast bowler at bay for 11 balls, finally perished behind the wicket.
Kallis continued in the same vein. He shielded the tail and attacked the loose balls even as the Indian pace trio got the ball to dart around menacingly.
South Africa first innings (Overnight 232/4)
Alviro Petersen c Dhoni b Sharma 21
Graeme Smith lbw b Khan 6
Hashim Amla c Pujara b Sreesanth 59
Jacques Kallis c Dhoni b Khan 161
AB de Villiers c Dhoni b Sreesanth 26
Ashwell Prince b Sreesanth 47
Mark Boucher c Dhoni b Sreesanth 0
Dale Steyn c Pujara b Khan 0
Morne Morkel c Dhoni b Sreesanth 8
Paul Harris c Pujara b Sharma 7
Lonwabo Tsotsobe not out 8
Extras (b 1, lb 6, w 1, nb 11) 19
Total (all out in 112.5 overs) 362
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Smith, 6.3 overs), 2-34 (Petersen, 13.3), 3-106 (Amla, 28.3), 4-164 (de Villiers, 50.6), 5-262 (Prince, 83.5), 6-262 (Boucher, 83.6), 7-272 (Steyn, 86.1), 8-283 (Morkel, 87.6), 9-310 (Harris, 98.1)
Zaheer Khan 29.5-6-89-3
Ishant Sharma 27-6-77-2
Harbhajan Singh 27-3-75-0
India 1st innings:
Gautam Gambhir batting 65
Virender Sehwag c Smith b Steyn 13
Rahul Dravid run out (de Villiers) 5
Sachin Tendulkar batting 49
Extras (lb 8, w 1, nb 1) 10
Total (for two wickets in 50 overs) 142
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Sehwag, 6.3 overs), 2-28 (Dravid, 10.5)
Dale Steyn 13-4-31-1
Morne Morkel 14-3-46-0
Lonwabo Tsotsobe 12-3-28-0
Paul Harris 11-2-29-0