DURBAN, South Africa, December 27 – Fast bowler Dale Steyn struck four times but India remained optimistic after a rain-hit first day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Sunday.
Steyn took four for 36 as India struggled to 183 for six before bad light stopped play 16 minutes after tea.
Indian top scorer VVS Laxman felt India were still in with a chance.
"Anything over 250 will be a good score if conditions remain the same," said Laxman, who made 38 before falling to a sensational diving catch by Lonwabo Tsotsobe off Steyn.
Laxman said it was unlikely conditions would change as much as they did in the first Test at Centurion, where India lost by an innings and 25 runs after being bowled out for 136 in the first innings.
"The wicket is much quicker and the bounce is more," he said.
"The Centurion wicket was soft and slow and when it got hot the conditions really eased up for the batsmen."
Laxman said it was unfortunate that he was out soon after Rahul Dravid fell for a patient 25, caught behind off Steyn after the pair had crafted a solid fourth wicket partnership of 38 in 77 minutes.
"It would have been ideal if one of the batsmen had remained on and been unbeaten on 60 or 70 at the end of the day. All of us got starts but were unable to convert it into big scores."
South Africa v India scoreboard
Steyn took advantage of overcast conditions and a bouncy pitch after India, for the second successive match, were sent in after rain delayed the start of play.
Steyn gave South African supporters a scare when he pulled up with a left groin injury while running in for his first ball after tea.
He had to leave the field but he was back minutes later and was set to bowl again when the umpires took the players off for the day.
"I’ll be fine," said Steyn.
"I got a bit of cramp. For the first time the physio told me I was over-hydrated instead of dehydrated. I had to go off the field and stretch a bit."
Needing a victory to keep alive hopes of overall success in the three-match series, the visitors showed more fight than they did in the first innings of the first Test at Centurion.
Although the host nation finished the day in a strong position only Steyn took full advantage of helpful conditions.
Steyn posed a consistent threat, bowling at a lively pace and swinging the ball away from the batsmen.
He dismissed both openers, Virender Sehwag (25) and Murali Vijay (19), in a spell of two for 19 in eight overs before lunch and added the wickets of Dravid and Laxman during the afternoon.
Left-armer Tsotsobe claimed the key wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, who was caught at second slip for 13 in the first over after lunch.
Tsotsobe struck again shortly before tea, again in the first over of a spell, when Cheteshwar Pujara (19) top-edged an attempted hook to give wicketkeeper Mark Boucher an easy catch.
Tsotsobe also held a sensational catch to dismiss Laxman, the most impressive of the Indian batsmen.
Laxman, who had greeted Steyn at the start of his afternoon spell with a sumptuous straight drive for four and an effortless hook for six, pulled a short ball from Steyn.
It seemed destined for the boundary at wide mid-on but Tsotsobe dived to his right and held the ball one-handed to the obvious astonishment of the batsman.
"It was incredible," said Steyn.
"I only got three wickets today and he got a great catch."
While South Africa kept faith in the victorious first Test team, India made three changes with Vijay, Pujara and Zaheer Khan coming in for Gautam Gambhir, who had a hand injury, Suresh Raina and Jaidev Unadkat.