MOHALI: South Africa made India rue their decision to bat first by reducing the hosts to 82 for three wickets at lunch on the opening day of the first test on Thursday. With the Mohali surface expected to provide significant assistance to spinners, India captain Virat Kohli was pleased to win the toss and said they would look to capitalise on what he felt would be the best day for batting during the match.

But South Africa ensured Kohli, who turned 26 on Thursday, was eating his words shortly afterwards when paceman Vernon Philander sent back opener Shikhar Dhawan (nought) before India had even got on the scoreboard.

Dhawan edged Philander to South Africa captain Hashim Amla at slip in the second over of the day.

India recovered from the early jolt through a second-wicket stand of 63 between Murali Vijay (40 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (31), forcing Amla to make a bowling change with the part-time left-arm spin of Dean Elgar.

Amla was rewarded when Pujara was given out leg before on the bowler's fourth delivery.

The dismissal brought Kohli to the crease but debutant fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, 20, made it a birthday to forget for the batsman when he had him caught out at short cover off a leading edge for his first wicket in tests.

Ajinkya Rahane (three not out) and Vijay took India to the break with no further damage.

All-rounder JP Duminy and fast bowler Morne Morkel missed out for South Africa after picking up injuries during the one-day series, which the visitors won 3-2.

India went with three slow bowlers for the match, with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja returning to the side after an absence of almost 15 months.