Chennai: Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla defied India's bowlers for the second time in the match as South Africa closed in on a draw in the first Test here at the Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.
The duo batted through most of the morning session of the fifth and final day to lift the tourists from their overnight second innings total of 131-1 to 212-2 by lunch.
South Africa now lead India by 125 runs with eight wickets in hand and are well-placed to bat out the remaining two sessions to force a draw in the first match of the three-Test series.
McKenzie, who made 94 in the first innings, went to lunch on 88 with the help of nine boundaries.
Amla, South Africa's first innings hero with 159, survived two dropped catches to make 81 before he was dismissed five minutes before lunch.
Indian captain Anil Kumble provided the breakthrough by having Amla caught by Rahul Dravid at lone slip.
New batsman Jacques Kallis had yet to score.
McKenzie and Amla put on 157 for the second wicket, quashing India's hopes of attempting an unlikely win by ending the second innings swiftly.
The hosts, toiling on a wicket that offered slow turn for the spinners, have themselves to blame for allowing the long partnership.
Amla was on 55 when he top-edged a sweep off Harbhajan Singh but Shanthakumaran Sreesanth could not hold the skier running in from deep square-leg.
Amla moved to 72 when he drove seamer Rudra Pratap Singh uppishly but the bowler failed to latch on to a sharp return catch.
The wicket, a nightmare for the bowlers, saw South Africa pile up 540 in the first innings and India replied with 627 on the back of a brilliant 319 from Virender Sehwag and 111 by Dravid.
The second Test will be played in Ahmedabad from April 3 and the third in Kanpur from April 11.