Marco Jansen and Duanne Olivier struck crucial blows to leave India at 53/3 in the first session of day one of the second Test at the Wanderers here on Monday.
At lunch, KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari are unbeaten after South Africa claimed honours in the opening session of the match.
It was clearly a session of two halves for India: 36/0 in the first hour and 17/3 in the second hour. The start was quiet for India as Kagiso Rabada got to beat Rahul in the opening over.
Duanne Olivier, playing in his first Test since February 2019, tried to rattle Agarwal with a superb bouncer. Agarwal became more aggressive of the duo, driving Olivier for fours through cover and down the ground before giving the same treatment to Rabada.
A cautious Rahul survived a caught-behind appeal as a short ball from Olivier brushed his shoulder. South Africa took the review, thinking of the sound as outer edge and burned it.
Rahul followed this with back-to-back fours -- an on-drive and an outer edge through third man and gully. Rabada troubled the duo and with Lungi Ngidi finding some movement, one could sense that a wicket was around the corner.
After the drinks break, Agarwal fell while trying to drive a full ball from Marco Jansen and edged behind to keeper Kyle Verreynne. Cheteshwar Pujara was troubled by Ngidi, Rabada and Olivier consistently bowling incoming deliveries, which kept short-leg interested thrice.
Rahul continued to find a boundary each off Olivier off Rabada despite being tested by short balls. But he saw his partners go down in quick succession in the 24th over as Olivier sent back Pujara and Rahane on back-to-back deliveries.
While Pujara attempted a forward-defence, he couldn't counter the extra bounce from the ball which took the shoulder edge of the bat to gully. On the very next ball, Rahane steered a back of length delivery straight to third slip.
Rahul and Vihari, playing his first match since the Sydney draw in 2021, ensured that India didn't lose any other wicket till lunch came.
Brief scores: India 53/3 in 26 overs (Mayank Agarwal 26, KL Rahul 19 not out, Duanne Olivier 2/27, Marco Jansen 1/2) vs South Africa.