Markram and Amla kept the runs flowing with a 63-run partnership before Markram was caught behind off the bowling of Ashwin for 94, which came off 150 balls and included 15 boundaries.
Vijay (4 batting) and Lokesh Rahul (0 batting) were unbeaten for India. However the 42 runs he shared for the eight wicket with Du Plessis, may yet prove crucial in this match.
At the break, Hashim Amla (35) and AB de Villiers (16) were at the crease.
South Africa, who were sitting pretty at 246 for 3 at one stage, went to stumps on a lot shaky 269 for 6, with Ashwin having taken 3 for 90.
Virender Sehwag has said that Virat Kohli "should drop himself" if he fails to perform in the second Test against South Africa. Hence India has only played one spinner in both the tests.
That took South Africa from 246/3 to 251/6, and what should have been a dominant day at the office became one that India will be more satisfied with. Amla dropped a delivery from him at his feet and was called through by skipper Faf du Plessis who easily made his ground but Pandya turned and threw to the other end hitting the stumps and running Amla out. Lungisani Ngidi made his Test debut in the place of injured Dale Steyn for South Africa while India got Ishant Sharma and Parthiv Patel in the place of Wriddhiman Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar respectively.
Remembering the Victims of the Montecito Flood
On Thursday, the talk-show hosts shared an emotional moment as they updated Ellen viewers on the destruction in their community. Anderson says the number of personnel searching ravaged neighborhoods has doubled over the past day to 1,250.
But the first two sessions was all about chase the leather for the Indian fielders as the South Africa batsmen made hay.
After wickets fell in heaps in the first Test at Newlands, the pitch at SuperSport Park presented an entirely different proposition as batsmen ruled the roost.
5 PANDYA MAGIC TURNS THE DAY: Despite not being highly rated ahead of the series Hardik Pandya is becoming something of a talisman for India in this series and he again provided a spark that got India right back into the contest late in the day.
Though South Africa lost two wickets in the second session‚ they went to lunch with 78 on the board for the loss of no wicket with Makram on 51 and his senior partner‚ Dean Elgar‚ on 26 as they responded very well to the questions that were asked by the Indian bowlers. By tea, he had hit six fours and played the lead role in an unbroken partnership of 52 with Murali Vijay, who was 31 not out.
The all-rounder then completed the routine task of dislodging the bails to run out Philander after the South Africa seamer's brain-fade had left him and Du Plessis at the same end. De Kock was undone by Ashwin, poking at one away from his body, and then came Philander's foolhardy charge down the wicket that saw him end up at the same end as a furious du Plessis.