The pitch, which offered both bounce and prodigious lateral movement, is likely to deteriorate as it bakes under the Highveld sun for a few days, posing an even greater challenge for a South African side that has to bat last.
Experienced batsman Hashim Amla was the highest scorer for the hosts with a fighting 61 off 121 balls.
India would like to strike early and limit South Africa to a modest total in order to stage a comeback into the third test at Johannesburg.
Having changed things up all series, it was no surprise to see India send Parthiv Patel out to open the batting in the second innings alongside M Vijay.
After the visitors were restricted to 187 on the opening day yesterday (January 24), Pujara said Indian bowlers will bowl better lengths than the Proteas.
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"On wickets like this the element of fortune probably comes in a lot more with playing and missing, so any batter can get out at any stage. If we post a good first innings score, I think it will be a good game", he signed off.
India will resume on day three on 49/1, 42 runs ahead of South Africa. It is nearly a given that the 22-yard strip will come in not just for scrutiny but also censure from the International Cricket Council. Where there had been only seam and bounce on the first day, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma found swing as well first up, putting the overnight batsmen through a searching examination.
On the other side, it was a No.3 who was keen to show he belonged after falling cheaply in the first two Test matches. He tried to hit the ball on the rise only to miss the attractive inswinger from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Rabada had come in at No 3 towards the end of day one and had to endure a tricky little period to protect his more accomplished team-mates. His intent was praise worthy, and stuck around to add 64 runs with Amla for the third wicket. It was much tougher than one used for the first Test in Cape Town.
But the happiness was short-lived as the 29-year-old Kohli, who was dropped on scores of 11 and 32, couldn't ride his luck for the third time when he drove a Lungi Ngidi delivery away from the body and edged it to third slip where Ab de Villiers made no mistake this time. A series of awayswingers gave way to a screaming inswinger that ducked back a long way, defeated the batsman's expansive drive and uprooted middle peg.