Cricket: Skipper Dean Elgar guides South Africa to victory over India, series level at 1-1

South Africa captain Dean Elgar has produced a heroic unbeaten innings of 96 runs to lead his team to a seven-wicket victory over India in the second test at Johannesburg.

Elgar defied a hostile Indian attack and body blows from balls that struck him on a difficult pitch to deliver a matchwinning performance, as he led a successful 240-run chase, fittingly hitting a boundary to secure the victory.

South Africa reached 243/3 near the end of a rain-restricted fourth day to level the series, after India won the first test in Pretoria by 113 runs, with the deciding match to come at Cape Town, starting Tuesday.

The home team were 118/2 overnight, but had to wait as the first two sessions on Thursday were washed out by rain.

Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen eventually resumed their run chase under cloudy skies, with the outcome still in the balance and the pitch expected to favour the formidable India attack.

But the two batsmen continued their partnership and added 57 more runs in the first hour of play, as they took on the tourists' bowling, before Van der Dussen edged Mohammed Shami to first slip and was out for 40.

South Africa still needed 65 to win when the wicket went down and might have quickly spiralled into trouble, had Shardul Thakur held onto a catch when new batsman Temba Bavuma hit the second ball he faced straight back at the bowler.

Thakur was unable to hold onto a stinging shot and Bavuma went on to make full use of his good fortune to finish 23 not out.

But Elgar was the hero, showing a dogged fighting spirit and leading by example, handing his young team an important and morale-boosting win. He faced 188 balls, hitting 10 boundaries, and was deserving of a century.

"I'd like to think that the knocks just gave me added motivation," says Elgar. "The bigger picture is to win and I wanted to show our young group that sometimes taking the blows can be worth it."

South Africa had never beaten India at the Wanderers and keep alive their hopes of denying the world's top-ranked team a first-ever series victory in South Africa.

"I felt we could have scored 60 or so more runs in the first innings, and given ourselves a bit of a lead," adds India's stand-in skipper KL Rahul. "That's really where we let the game slip."