A dry pitch, South Africa nervously looking at all the cracks, win the toss, bat first and set the tone for, not just this first Test, the entire series. It all went to plan until the win of the toss, but after that, the batsmen failed to set that tone that was so necessary, succumbing, not to Dale Steyn (that would have been understandable), but to the part-time left-arm spin of Dean Elgar.
After Shikhar how-does-he-keep-getting-chances Dhawan fell early, inevitably nicking one off Vernon Philander, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara (31, 66b, 6x4), preferred to Rohit Sharma, were building a nice little partnership for the second wicket, before Elgar (8-1-22-4) struck in devastating fashion to skittle the hosts out for 201.
Easy as pie, the middle order of India was scythed through by the South Africa bowlers, without really having to do too much, and India were staring down the barrel again. Once Pujara was struck plumb in front by an Elgar delivery, Kohli leading-edged one to give Kagiso Rabada his first wicket in Test match cricket, before Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha showed India batsmen are not that great players of spin anymore.
Murali Vijay (75, 136b, 12x4) did his best to hold one end up and ensure India would get to some score of note on Day 1 of this first Test match against South Africa in Mohali, but that penchant for taking on the spinners hurt even the opener, with Simon Harmer also chipping in with a wicket.
There was that at-least-they-are-showing-some-semblance-of-a-fight lower order partnership between Ravindra Jadeja (38, 92b, 4x4), making his Test comeback, and R Ashwin (20, 42b), worth 42 runs, which did frustrate South Africa a touch, but once Philander rapped Jadeja on the pads for the umpteenth time, but this time on line, it was all over for India, with Tahir finishing the innings off with a couple of wrong-uns.
This was India's opportunity to show they are up for the contest, after a disappointing couple of limited-overs series', but, unfortunately, it was South Africa who took control again, and that too without Steyn getting a single wicket.