India went 2-0 down with successive defats in Delhi and Cuttack but responded emphatically to beat the woeful Proteas and keep the series alive at 2-1.
So poor were SA with the bat that six batters failed to score past the 10-run mark and the highest scorers were Heinrich Klaasen (29), Reeza Hendricks (23), Wayne Parnell (22) and Dwaine Pretorius (20).
SA approach the last two matches in Rajkot and Bengaluru on Friday and Sunday with everything to play for but most importantly facing an India with their tails up after a victory where they impressed in all departments.
Temba Bavuma won the toss and elected to field first. India’s opening batters Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) put the home side on the path to victory with an innings-setting partnership of 97 off 60.
The other notable contributor to the scoreboard was Hardik Pandya with an unbeaten 31 while Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Axar Patel failed to cover themselves in glory with a combined 31 runs.
For the Proteas, Dwaine Pretorius was the pick of the bowlers with the scalp of Kishan and Pant while Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj as they restricted India to 179.
The target proved too much for SA who were bowled out for 131 with Harshal Patel claiming four wickets, followed by Yuzvendra Chahal with three.
The other destroyers with ball in hand for India were Axar Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who ended their shifts with one scalp apiece as the Proteas were brought down to earth.