Morne Morkel snares a wicket [GALLO/GETTY]
South Africa has inflicted India's heaviest defeat in eight years, beating the hosts by an innings and 90 runs in the second test to take a 1-0 lead in the three-test series.

South Africa declared its first innings at the overnight score of 494-7 and then bowled out India, which posted a dismal 76 in its first innings, for 328 in its second to win inside three days.

It was India's biggest defeat since losing to Australia by an innings and 141 runs in 2000, and its first loss inside three days since a defeat by New Zealand in 2002.

South Africa staked its claim to being the second-best test nation in the world behind Australia by recording its third victory by more than an innings in 2008.

Makhaya Ntini (44) and Dale Steyn (3-91) did the damage for South Africa on a day that extended to 7-1/2 hours play to end a game which had seemed a foregone conclusion after the hosts first innings collapse.

India had not been beaten by more than an innings since Sri Lanka's win at Colombo in 2001, and not at home since 2000 when South Africa won by innings and 71 runs at Bangalore.

That match had represented the previous biggest win by South Africa against India.

South Africa's declaration Saturday came after umpires inspected the ground and decided to delay the start of play for half an hour, allowing the ground to dry after heavy rain Friday forced an early finish.

Pace attack

Upon the late resumption, South Africa's pace bowlers continued to torment India's top-order, reducing it to 125-4 as Virender Sehwag (17) hit two sixes in the first over before departing, followed by Rahul Dravid (17), Wasim Jaffer (19) and V.V.S. Laxman (35).

The was some resistance in the fifth-wicket partnership of 110 between Sourav Ganguly (87) and Mahendra Dhoni (52).

Ganguly seemed on course for his 16th test century when he was adjudged caught behind shaping for a cut against Steyn.

Ganguly seemed surprised when umpire Tony Hill ruled him caught behind, with TV replays suggesting the noise came from bat hitting pitch.

The first India batsman to make a half-century in the test, Ganguly's 149-ball knock contained eight boundaries.

Dhoni (52) went on to complete his fifty before giving skipper Graeme Smith a low catch at first slip off Ntini, and the departure of its last recognised batsman condemned India to certain defeat.

All-rounder Irfan Pathan hit an unbeaten 43, but got little support as Steyn removed lower order batsmen Harbhajan Singh (4) and Rudra Pratap Singh (8) before Ntini clean bowled Shantakumaran Sreesanth (17) to seal the victory.