Cape Town - Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir guided India towards safety - and a share of the series - with a cautious half century on the fifth day of the third and final Test against South Africa at Newlands here on Thursday.
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Gambhir was unbeaten on 62 as India reached 113 for two at tea, with only another 34 overs due to be bowled.
India, already assured of remaining at number one ahead of South Africa in the official Test rankings, have lost all their previous Test series in South Africa.
India clearly regarded a target of 340 as unrealistic on a pitch with some uneven bounce and even the normally aggressive Virender Sehwag concentrated on defence against South African fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
Sehwag completed a disappointing series when he was caught at first slip by South African captain Graeme Smith off Morkel for 11 after batting for three minutes short of an hour. Sehwag scored 144 runs in the series at an average of 24.
Gambhir and Rahul Dravid defied the South African bowlers until after the afternoon drinks break in a second wicket stand of 79 before Dravid was caught at third slip for 31 when he got a ball from Lonwabo Tsotsobe which kicked from just short of a length.
Gambhir, who batted despite a left elbow injury which will keep him out of a forthcoming one-day series against South Africa, gave a sharp chance to AB de Villiers at silly mid-off off left-arm spinner Paul Harris in the next over.
Harris had earlier had what looked a good leg before wicket appeal against Dravid turned down.
The left-handed Gambhir, who was injured while making 93 in the first innings, looked in distress when he was struck by Morkel just below the injured elbow in the second over of the second innings. He received treatment on the field before carrying on batting with no further obvious signs of discomfort.
South Africa, first innings, 362
India, first innings, 364
South Africa, second innings, 341
India, second innings (target 340)
G. Gambhir not out 62
V. Sehwag c Smith b Morkel 11
R. Dravid c Prince b Tsotsobe 31
S. Tendulkar not out 6
Extras (b2, nb1) 3
Total (2 wkts, 56 overs) 113
Fall of wickets: 1-27 (Sehwag), 2-106 (Dravid)
Bowling: Steyn 12-3-33-0, Morkel 10-4-14-1 (nb1), Tsotsobe 11-3-21-1, Harris 19-12-16-0, Smith 4-0-27-0
To bat: V. Laxman, C. Pujara, M.Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Z. Khan, I. Sharma, S. Sreesanth
Match position: India need 226 to win with eight wickets remaining in the second innings
Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG), Simon Taufel (AUS)
TV umpire: Brian Jerling (RSA)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)
South Africa - Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher (wk), Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Dale Steyn, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel.
India - Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Laxman, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.