Durban - The bowlers of South Africa and India took it in turns to cause carnage as 18 wickets fell for 245 runs on the second day of the second Test at Kingsmead on Monday.
At the end of an extraordinary day, India, on 92 for four in their second innings, held an overall lead of 166 runs in the battle between the world's two top-ranked Test nations.
When India were all out for 205, losing their last four wickets for 22 runs at the start of the day, it seemed that the host nation were set to dominate the match, with conditions for batting expected to ease after an overcast first day.
But returning fast bowler Zaheer Khan and veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh sent South Africa crashing to 131 all out, giving India a first innings lead of 74.
Khan took three for 36 and Harbhajan four for 10.
India hurried to 42 without loss in their second innings and looked well on course to avenge their innings defeat in the first Test at Centurion last week.
But left-arm pace bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe had Virender Sehwag caught behind for an aggressive 32 at the start of an Indian collapse in which the top four batsmen fell for the addition of 14 runs.
Veteran VVS Laxman and the inexperienced Cheteshwar Pujara restored a semblance of sanity to a frenetic day by batting together for 76 minutes until bad light ended play, adding 36 unbeaten runs.
It could prove a crucial contribution in the context of a match in which the best partnership had yielded 43 runs and the highest individual score remained Laxman's first innings 38.
Whereas conditions were obviously bowler-friendly on an overcast, rain-shortened first day, the sun shone brightly for most of Monday with a north-easterly breeze blowing across the ground, which normally heralds good weather and favourable batting conditions.
The main hazard for batsmen was steep bounce, while there was some seam movement off a well-grassed pitch.
After Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel wrapped up the Indian first innings, Khan started the comeback by the number one ranked Test nation when he claimed the wickets of opening batsmen Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen.
South Africa then suffered a double blow when in-form Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers were out in quick succession shortly before lunch to leave the home side reeling at 74 for four.
Kallis, who made a maiden Test double century at Centurion, was run out for 10. He was backing up when bowler Ishant Sharma deflected a drive by Hashim Amla into the stumps.
Hashim Amla, playing in his 50th Test match on his home ground, and Ashwell Prince looked to be repairing the damage when they batted together for 40 minutes after the break, putting on 22 runs.
But Harbhajan regained control for India with a superb spell of bowling, making his first breakthrough when Amla missed a sweep and was leg before wicket for 33.
Prince chopped Khan into his stumps in the next over and Harbhajan snapped up the wickets of Dale Steyn and Paul Harris in quick succession.
Steyn fell to an excellent diving catch by Rahul Dravid at slip as Dravid became the first fielder in Test history to take 200 catches.
At one stage Harbhajan had figures of three for four in six overs.
Khan missed the first Test because of injury and watched from the sidelines as South Africa piled up 620 for four declared on the way to victory by an innings and 25 runs.