The hosts, leading the series 1-0, once again fell back on their spin force to dismiss opener Stiaan van Zyl for a duck and Imran Tahir (4), who came in as a nightwatchman. (India vs South Africa 3rd Test in Jamtha, Nagpur Highlights)
Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, tasted early blood by plucking a wicket apiece before the visitors ended the day at 11 for two after nine overs at the Vidharba Cricket Association ground at Jamtha.
Openers Dean Elgar (7) and captain Hashim Amla (0) then ensured that there was no further damage done.
Earlier, on a pitch that offered plenty of turn to the spinners and reverse swing to fast bowler Morne Morkel, the Indian batsmen came a cropper after opting to bat first and were gasping at 125 for six before the tail wagged and took the total past the 200-mark.
This is the third time that India have been dismissed in the vicinity of 200 in the series, having fallen for 201 and 200 in the opening Test they won at Mohali to take a 1-0 lead.
In-form opener Murali Vijay top scored with 40, while wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha (32) and Ravindra Jadeja (34) revived the tottering innings briefly.