India are reeling at 28 for the loss of three wickets, trailing South Africa by 258 runs at Stumps on Day One in the first Test being played at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
Cheteshwar Pujara is at the crease batting on five with Rohit Sharma.
Opener Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan led India's reply but the visitors suffered a big blow, losing the openers for one and 16 respectively.
Skipper Virat Kohli could not stay on the crease for long as Morne Morkel's caught him put on his first ball of the match.
Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel picked one wicket apiece for the Proteas.
Earlier, after winning the toss, South African managed 286 in their first innings.
Choosing to bat first, skipper Faf Du Plessis-led side suffered an immediate batting collapse, losing three wickets to pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Kumar claimed opener Dean Elgar on his third delivery and then got Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla's wicket in his next two overs.
However, the hosts then came back strong from there with half centuries from AB de Villiers and Du Plessis. de Villiers was cleaned up on 65 by Jasprit Bumrah who took his maiden Test wicket.
Hardik Pandya then did the unfinished work by dismissing captain Du Plessis on 62. Kumar, continuing his magical spell took his fourth wicket as he sent back Quinton de Kock on 43.
South African lower order came to rescue the side and helped accumulate runs.
All rounder Vernon Philander scored 23 before handing Mohammed Shami his lone wicket of the day, while Keshav Maharaj contributed a significant 35 at crucial time.
Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in two late wickets in form of Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.
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