Centurion - India lost four wickets before lunch as South Africa moved closer to victory on the fourth day of the first Test at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
India were 277 for six in their second innings at lunch, still 207 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat.
Nightwatchman Ishant Sharma, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina fell to the South African pace attack.
Sachin Tendulkar, unbeaten on 38, and the possibility of thunderstorms, carried India's faint hopes of salvaging a draw.
But South Africa could look forward to the second new ball, due 13 balls after lunch.
Sharma frustrated the South African bowlers for the first 48 minutes of the day, looking awkward against short-pitched deliveries but finding a straight bat to keep out anything aimed at his stumps.
Sharma gained a reprieve when he was on 11 when he pushed a return catch to Morne Morkel, only for umpire Ian Gould to check with television umpire Shaun George whether Morkel had bowled a no-ball.
Although there is no decision review system in place for players, the umpires are entitled to check on the legitimacy of deliveries. Replays showed Morkel had over-stepped marginally.
Sharma eventually fell to Dale Steyn when he prodded a catch to Hashim Amla at short leg after making 23 and batting for a total of 71 minutes, facing 51 balls.
Dravid became the third batsman, behind team-mate Tendulkar and Australia's Ricky Ponting, to make 12 000 Test runs, reaching the mark when he had scored 43.
He was congratulated by Tendulkar, but did not add to his score before edging a lifting ball from Morkel to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. The previous ball, pitched well outside off stump, had kept low.
Laxman and Raina fell cheaply, edging Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Jacques Kallis to gully and first slip respectively, with Raina out in the last over before lunch.
Lunch scores on the fourth day of the first Test between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
India, first innings, 136
South Africa, first innings, 620-4 dec
India, second innings (overnight 190-2)
G. Gambhir lbw b Steyn 80
V. Sehwag c Smith b Harris 63
R. Dravid c Boucher b Morkel 43
I. Sharma c Amla b Steyn 23
S. Tendulkar not out 38
V. Laxman c De Villiers b Tsotsobe 8
S. Raina c Harris b Kallis 5
Extras (b9, lb2, nb5, w1) 17
Total (6 wkts, 77.5 overs) 277
Fall of wickets: 1-137 (Sehwag), 2-170 (Gambhir), 3-214 (Sharma), 4-242 (Dravid), 5-256 (Laxman), 6-277 (Raina)
Bowling: Steyn 17-5-58-2 (w1), Morkel 18-4-49-1 (nb2), Tsotsobe 18-3-72-1 (nb1), Harris 15-3-49-1, Kallis 9.5-2-38-1 (nb2)
To bat: M. Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, S. Sreesanth, J. Unadkat
Match situation: India trail by 207 runs with four wickets standing in the second innings
Umpires: Steve Davis (AUS), Ian Gould (ENG)
TV umpire: Shaun George (RSA)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)