A double strike by India's bowlers after tea put the tourists slightly ahead of South Africa after three days of the second Test and set up an intriguing finale at Kingsmead.
Harbhajan Singh removed Alviro Petersen (26), while the much-improved Shanthakumaran Sreesanth added the big wicket of Hashim Amla (16) to his list as the hosts were on 111 for 3 – still 192 short of victory – when bad light brought an early end to the day's proceedings.
The bowlers' efforts came after an even mightier assault by V V S Laxman, who made 96 to help the tourists reach 228 and set the home side 303 to win. The veteran batsman put on 70 with Zaheer Khan (27) for the eighth wicket and also received good support from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (21) in an innings of determination and concentration.
It left a monumental task for the Proteas, considering that only twice has a 300-plus victory target been achieved in the fourth innings at the Durban ground – the highest being 340 achieved by the South Africans against Australia in 2002.
Graeme Smith (37) and Petersen provided the perfect start as they raced past 50 in the 10th over. But in the final over before tea, captain Smith needlessly tried to pull Sreesanth, who bowled poorly in the first Test and early part of the first innings, and top-edged to Dhoni as the game swung back to India's advantage.