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Rishabh Pant scored a brilliant unbeaten 100 from 139 balls as India were bowled out for 198 in their second innings on the stroke of tea, to set hosts South Africa a victory target of 212 on day three of the decisive third and final test at Newlands.
Pant took the attack to the home bowlers after lunch and smashed four sixes in an innings of high quality on a difficult wicket for batting.
With the series on the line, South Africa will have to chase their target on a pitch with prodigious seam movement and against a high-quality Indian pace attack.
But one of those was when South Africa chased 211 for the loss of five wickets against India in 2007 to win the test.
He looked far more in control than any batsman in the test so far and could well have played India into a winning position.
South Africa bowled without much luck, beating the bat with regularity, but it is the first time in test history that all 20 wickets to fall in a match for one team were caught.
Lungi Ngidi (3-21), Kagiso Rabada (3-53) and Marco Jansen (4-36) were among the wickets, Ngidi claiming the key scalp of Kohli to open up an end for South Africa to attack.
Kohli chased a wide delivery and was well caught at second slip by Aiden Markram, a mirror image of his two dismissals in the first test for which he received criticism.
The series is level at 1-1 after India won the first test in Pretoria before the hosts bounced back to claim the second.