It was mixed fortunes for India in the first few overs after lunch. While Tendulkar smashed a top-edge six off Morne Morkel to reach his 51st ton in Tests, Dale Steyn wreaked havoc with the new ball. He trapped Cheteshwar Pujara for 2 in the 83rd over and then two overs later got captain M S Dhoni caught in the slips for a duck. India were in trouble at 247/6 in 87 overs with Harbhajan Singh out in the middle to keep Tendulkar company.
The day began with a big scare of Tendulkar who had resumed on an overnight score of 49. Wicketkeeper Mark Bouncher was convinced that Tendulkar had edged a Dale Steyn delivery, but neither the bowler, who went up with the appeal late, nor the umpire heard the knick. Tendulkar came back later in the over, to smack Steyn for a four through the covers. A couple of overs later, Gautam Gambhir, who was picking up his innings at 65, struck Morkel for a boundary to take India past the 150-run mark.
Tendulkar and Gambhir who had grown very accustomed to conditions from their long innings the previous day, took a four each in the next two overs. Then in the 61st over, Tendulkar came down heavily on Lonwabo Tsotsobe, getting him away for two consecutive boundary - one, to midwicket and the other, to backward point. Gambhir followed up with a boundary each of Morkel, Tsotsobe and the off-spinner Paul Harris, in the next three overs.
In the 69th over, Gambhir and Tendulkar picked Tsotsobe for a single each to bring up India's 200. Gambhir was unbeaten on 90 and Tendulkar was close behind, on 78. But just a couple of overs later, Gambhir's charge towards his maiden century in South Africa was cut short at 93 when Harris had him caught behind. India were still in a strong position at 204/3.
Tendulkar then stepped on the gas, dispatching Tsotsobe for two boundaries in the 75th over, one through gully and one past second slip. Then after the Little Master struck one more four off Harris, new batsman VVS Laxman got into the act, smashing Alviro Petersen and Harris for a boundary each. But in the 80th over, with the score at 235/3, Laxman was run-out as Harris got a finger off a shot from Tendulkar which pegged back the non-striker's stumps, where Laxman was just out of his crease.
Tendulkar, still batting on 94, and new batsman Cheteshar Pujara, not out on 1, took India in to lunch with the score at 237/4 in 82 overs. Can the South Africans wrest back control of the match, or will Tendulkar continue to dominate and complete his 51st Test century en route?