Kolkata:Virender Sehwag (125) hit his 19th Test hundred and shared an unbeaten 150-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar (65) to steer India to a comfortable 232 for two against South Africa at tea on day three of the second Test here on Monday.
India are now just 64 runs behind South Africa's first innings total of 296 as the visitors paid heavily for dropping Sehwag on his individual score of 47.
Sehwag was usual destructive self as he gathered runs at a good pace, taking just 115 balls for his 125 and smashed 19 boundaries and two sixes while Tendulkar supported his partner with a responsible 65 off 106 balls with nine fours.
The partnership between them lifted India from the twin blows after an explosive start as the hosts lost Gautam Gambhir (25) and Murali Vijay (7) in the first session, which also saw the visitors folding for 296.
Sehwag and Tendulkar built their stand brick-by-brick, yielding 135 runs in the post lunch session.
The South African pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell tested Sehwag and Tendulkar with a volley of bouncers but the Indian batsmen batted with resolve and poured cold water on the plans of the rival bowlers.
South Africa introduced the spin attack in 24th over but left-arm spinner Paul Harris failed to make an impact and runs kept flowing from the bat of Sehwag.
The Najafgarh marauder raced to his 19th Test hundred in 87 balls when he dispatched Parnell to a point boundary, with the boisterous Eden crowd in the background.
The Mumbai master soon completed his 55th half-century as it turned out to be the most productive session in terms of runs for India.
Earlier, South African innings folded for 296 after starting the day at 266 for nine.
India had an excellent start to their reply, with Sehwag and Gambhir putting on 73 for the first wicket.
Dale Steyn, the first Test hero for the visitors, found the going tough with Sehwag creaming him for three consecutive boundaries and went on to concede 29 runs in his forgettable first spell of five overs.
Just when South Africa needed a breakthrough badly, India gifted them an easy wicket in the form of Gambhir who became the victim of a Sehwag blunder.
With India cruising 72 for no loss in 9.1 overs, Gambhir responded to a second-run call from Sehwag but only to see himself stranded in the middle of the track as his partner changed mind.
The disappointing end to the entertaining opening stand brought Murali Vijay to the wicket.
However, Vijay (7) did not last long as he was caught brilliantly by AB De Villiers behind the wicket off Morkel.
Sehwag was lucky as he was dropped at the first slip by JP Duminy off Morkel in the very next over.