MOHALI: Off-spinner R Ashwin's five-wicket haul trumped A B de Villiers' gritty half-century as India grabbed a narrow 17-run lead after dismissing South Africa for 184 on Day 2 of the first cricket Test here today.
Wickets tumbled on the low and slow I S Bindra Stadium pitch as India lost Shikhar Dhawan, who collected his second duck of the game, early after the opener got caught at second slip off an angled Vernon Philander delivery.
In their second innings, India were 13 for one at tea with Murali Vijay (11 batting) and Cheteshwar Pujara (2 batting) at the crease. The hosts have stretched the second innings lead to 30 runs.
Earlier, De Villiers, who managed a fighting 83-ball 63, had raised hopes of his team overpowering India's first innings total of 201, but the Indian spin force did the trick. Ashwin once again became the leader of the pack, bagging his 13th Test fifer to claim 150 wickets in his 29th match.
Ashwin (5-51), who had sent opener Stiaan van Zyl (5) back in the pavilion on the opening day, got the prized wickets of overnight batsmen Dean Elgar (37) and Hashim Amla (43) and followed it up by scalping Dane Vilas (1) and Imran Tahir (4).
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja also contributed with three wickets while Amit Mishra bagged two, including the all-important scalp of De Villiers.
With the visitors in trouble at 127 for five at lunch, Jadeja struck in the sixth over of the second session to send Philander (3) back in the pavilion with Ajinkya Rahane taking a sharp catch at first slip.
Though the umpire referred the decision upstairs, it was clear that the ball was legitimate and the catch clean.
The session then saw a 34-run seventh-wicket partnership before Simon Harmer (7) departed, trapped LBW off Mishra. The leg-spinner had another chance of getting a wicket a ball later but failed to take a return catch from new-man Dale Steyn's full-blooded hit.
After surviving a few anxious moments in the middle, De Villiers got into his own to hit six boundaries. The ODI skipper got to his 37th Test fifty with a whack off Jadeja in the mid-wicket region.
Steyn's 14-ball patience took a walk when the pace spearhead jumped out to Mishra's googly and was stumped by Wriddhiman Saha.
The big moment came for India in the 64th over when Mishra castled De Villiers on a delivery that came a bit quicker off the leg-spinner's hand.
The day had started with Hashim Amla (43) and Dean Elgar (37) stitching a 76-run third-wicket partnership before Ashwin spun a web against the Proteas line-up.
De Villiers also got a lucky reprieve in the 25th over of the day after Jadeja induced an outside edge of the star player's bat and Virat Kohli took a clean catch. But replays showed that the left-arm spinner had overstepped the popping crease.
De Villiers had nearly walked back when the umpires stopped him and repeated replays confirmed the no-ball, much to the visiting team's delight.
But that was short-lived as Amla, who had batted well in his 97-ball stay, was stumped off Ashwin in the very next over. Three deliveries later, Ashwin also sent Vilas back in the pavilion to leave the visitors struggling.
Earlier, starting on their overnight score of 28 for two, Amla and Elgar mixed caution and aggression to make steady progress.
If Mishra operated with a slip, leg-slip and short-leg, Ashwin, who was introduced into the attack in the ninth over of the day, put pressure with two slips and a silly point to start with.
Ashwin also tested Amla with his flight and one of them caught the right-hander's inside edge only to fall short of leg-slip.
Ashwin finally got Elgar, who was the opening day hero with a four-wicket haul, to commit an error after the left-hander tried to slog sweep against the turn and ended up giving away a catch to backward point.
Elgar's hard-working 123-ball stay at the wicket was laced with just two boundaries.