Hashim Amla, centre, swots up on his batting technique during a rain break [AFP]
Bad weather delayed play as India pressed for a series-levelling victory against South Africa in the second and final Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. 

Only 34.1 overs were possible on a fourth day severely interrupted by bad light and rain, raising the tourists' hopes of saving the Test.

South Africa, trailing by 347 runs on the first innings, lost three key wickets and were 115-3 at the close, still 232 behind, but with seven wickets in hand with a good chance of seeing out the last day.

The Proteas hold a 1-0 series lead and are bidding to win their first series on Indian soil for a decade and leapfrog the hosts at the top of the world rankings.

Amla unbeaten

In the brief period of action, leg-spinner Amit Mishra sent back skipper Graeme Smith (20) and Jacques Kallis (20), and Harbhajan Singh dismissed Alviro Petersen.

In-form Hashim Amla was unbeaten on 49 and Ashwell Prince had yet to score when the umpires finally called off play for the day.

Only one over was possible after tea before bad light forced the suspension of play for a second time after the start had been delayed by 93 minutes due to overnight rain.

India, who lost the first Test in Nagpur by an innings and six runs, will hope for a clear day on Thursday as they attempt to draw the series and retain their number one Test ranking.

Early wickets

South Africa, resuming on six without loss, lost both openers either side of lunch before Amla, who scored centuries in his two previous outings, frustrated India in forging a partnership of 57 with Kallis.

Earlier, Mishra made the initial breakthrough with the score on 36 when he struck with his first ball to dismiss captain Graeme Smith (20) two overs before lunch.

Day four scorecard

South Africa first innings 296
India first innings 643-6d

South Africa second innings
(6-0 overnight)

G Smith lbw b Mishra 20
A Petersen c Badrinath b Harbhajan 21
H Amla not out 49
J Kallis c Dhoni b Mishra 20
A Prince not out 0
Extras 5
Total (for three wickets; 35 overs) 115

Fall of wickets: 1-36 2-54 3-111.
To bat: AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, D Steyn, W Parnell, M Morkel, P Harris.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh then dismissed first innings centurion Alviro Petersen, when the Test debutant was caught at short leg for 21.

Amla, who was lucky to escape when dropped by Murali Vijay at backward shortleg off Harbhajan on 14, and Kallis batted cautiously before Mishra struck again immediately after he was brought back into the attack by taking the wicket of Kallis.

India declared their first innings on a mammoth 643-6, built on centuries by Virender Sehwag (165), Venkatsai Laxman (143 not out), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (132 not out) and Sachin Tendulkar (106).

South Africa made 296 in their first innings.

The Test series will be followed by three one-day internationals at Jaipur (February 21), Gwalior (February 24) and Ahmedabad (February 27).

Source: Agencies