Cape Town - Sachin Tendulkar and Dale Steyn fought out a titanic battle before India took a two-run first innings lead on the third day of the third and final Test against South Africa at Newlands on Tuesday.
Tendulkar, Test cricket's all-time leading run-scorer, made 146 in an Indian total of 364, while Steyn, the world's number one fast bowler, took five for 75.
By the close, South Africa had reached 52 for two in their second innings to take a lead of 50 into the last two days.
South African captain Graeme Smith was trapped leg before wicket by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for 29 shortly before the close and was quickly followed by nightwatchman Paul Harris.
With the series between the world's two leading Test nations locked at one-all, it may take something special from one of the two sides to force a result.
But something special was what Tendulkar and Steyn produced for 16,000 enthralled spectators on Tuesday.
It was not one of Tendulkar's most fluent innings. Indeed, Steyn beat his bat several times during two blistering spells against the master batsman.
But Tendulkar never lost his composure as he battled to his 51st Test century on a pitch which always offered some assistance to the bowlers.
Only two other batsmen made scores of any significance. Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir struggled to 93 and shared a third wicket stand of 176 with Tendulkar, while Harbhajan Singh was typically unorthodox as he hit 40 and put on 76 for the seventh wicket with Tendulkar.
Steyn was magnificent, bowling at high pace and getting late away swing, although he had no luck in his first spell of the day.
He bowled five overs, all to Tendulkar, had an appeal for a catch behind turned down and conceded ten runs, six of which were off the edge of the bat while Tendulkar managed one sumptuous cover drive for four.
Steyn had an even better spell with the second new ball before and after lunch, taking two wickets for three runs in six hostile overs.
He dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to reduce India to a precarious 247 for six and had concerted appeals for catches against Tendulkar and Harbhajan turned down.
Umpire Ian Gould rejected both appeals, which came during the space of four balls, and television replays indicated he was correct both times.
Steyn seemed furious when the appeal against Harbhajan was turned down but it appeared the ball deflected off the off stump, remarkably without disturbing a bail.
Tendulkar's innings lasted for 465 minutes. He faced 313 balls and hit 17 fours and two sixes. When he eventually fell it was to Morne Morkel, Steyn's fast bowling partner, who had been largely unimpressive up to that point.
But Morkel produced a superb delivery, which slanted in to Tendulkar and straightened just enough to beat the bat and hit the top of the off stump.
Tendulkar was eighth man out with the total on 341. Zaheer Khan hit 23 off 22 balls, including two sixes, to take India into the lead, before he top-edged another attempted big hit against Morkel and was caught on the boundary almost behind the wicketkeeper.
South Africa's innings started with 85 minutes still remaining in the day.
But only 16 overs were bowled. Khan and Smith both needed treatment on the field and there was a hold-up because Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, anointed by the crowd as India's villain, alleged he was being abused by spectators on the third man boundary.
Gautam Gambhir c Boucher b Harris 93
Virender Sehwag c Smith b Steyn 13
Rahul Dravid run out (De Villiers) 5
Sachin Tendulkar b Morkel 146
VVS Laxman run out (Harris) 15
Cheteshwar Pujara lbw b Steyn 2
Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Prince b Steyn 0
Harbhajan Singh c sub (JP Duminy) b Steyn 40
Zaheer Khan c Prince b Morkel 23
Ishant Sharma c Boucher b Steyn 1
Shanthakumaran Sreesanth not out 4
Extras: (20lb, 1w, 1nb) 22
TOTAL: (all out) 364
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-28, 3-204, 4-235, 5-237, 6-247, 7-323, 8-341, 9-350, 10-364.
Bowling: Dale Steyn 31-11-75-5, Morne Morkel 29.1-7-106-2 (1nb, 1w), Lonwabo Tsotsobe 26-5-82-0, Paul Harris 29-8-72-1, Alviro Petersen 2-0-9-0. ^South Africa 2nd Innings=
Graeme Smith lbw b Harbhajan 29
Alviro Petersen not out 22
Paul Harris lbw b Harbhajan 0
Hashim Amla not out 0
Extras: (1nb) 1
TOTAL: (for 2 wickets) 52
Fall of wickets: 1-50, 2-52.
Still to bat: Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 5-0-25-0 (1nb), Shanthakumaran Sreesanth 5-1-20-0, Ishant Sharma 3-0-3-0, Harbhajan Singh 3-0-4-2.
Series: Three-match series level at 1-1.
Umpires: Ian Gould, England, and Simon Taufel, Australia.
TV umpire: Brian Jerling, South Africa. Match referee: Andy Pycroft, Zimbabwe.