Cheteshwar Pujara said the “match was in the balance,” but was confident the Indians would pull off a series clinching win on day four.
“We need to get Elgar out early,” he said.
Pujara, who made a stroke-filled 53 on a difficult pitch in the Indian second innings said, “I just wanted to put away the bad balls. Because on this pitch you do not know when you would receive an unplayable ball.”
He added, “I was happy with the way I batted. I was even happier with my partnership with Ajinkya Rahane because it gave India runs to fight with.”
On the effect of the roller on the pitch, he said, “The surface plays good for an hour after the heavy roller is used. Then the cracks start opening up again.”
Asked whether there was pressure on himself and Rahane ahead of the Indian innings, he said, “All the chatter is outside. The team-management is backing us. We are working hard at our batting, following a process and the runs will come.”
Pujara said: “Form is temporary, class is permanent.”
On skipper Virat Kohli’s fitness after a back spasm kept him out of this Test, he said, “He is getting better. I feel he will be fit soon.”
On Rishabh Pant’s batting and Wednesday’s on-field skirmishes, he said, “That’s the way Pant bats. Perhaps, what shots to play and at what time, the team-management may have a chat with him.”
He added, “As a unit we stay and fight together. If someone says something to us, you can be sure we will give it back to him.”
Justin Sammons, South Africa’s batting consultant, said the pitch was demanding, there was uneven bounce and said a lot of the home team’s hopes hinged on skipper Dean Elgar.
“He can play for long periods, and when he is there, the others can bat around him. And build partnerships. So his presence is very important for us.”
Sammons had words of praise for Indian bowling and said, “It was testing and relentless. The pitch too is playing tricks.”
Sammons expressed the confidence that South Africa can chase down the target.