India asked for a turning track in Mohali, and the curator certainly obliged, with the Day 1 pitch in this first Test match against South Africa looking more like something you expect to see on Day 4 of a Test match.

The India batsmen, choosing to use the willow first, did not cope with about five feet of rough too well (nope, not an exaggeration), as Dean Elgar, the part-time left-arm spinner for South Africa, made merry.

To overcome that disappointment with the willow, the India bowlers needed to step up, and they did reasonably well in the final 20 overs to end the day, picking up a couple of wickets, which included the crucial one of Faf Du Plessis, who was out without scoring a run.

It was not much of a surprise to see R Ashwin take the new ball, with Virat Kohli asking the offspinner to give India the early breakthrough. After a couple of probing overs, that breakthrough came as Stiaan Van Zyl, frightened to get the bat anywhere near the ball, knowing it is only a matter of time then before he nicks one, shouldered arms, only for the ball to strike him plumb in front of off stump as the ball came in with the angle.

That was the wicket India needed to lift the pall of gloom after their batting performance, and it only got brighter as Ravindra Jadeja clipped Du Plessis' off-stump under the fading light.

With nearly 12 overs remaining, India had the opportunity to pick up Hashim Amla, the South Africa captain who averages over 100 in India, but that cool-as-ice customer shut up shop like only he can, with Elgar also surviving at the other end, to ensure South Africa would edge this day, finishing on 28/2, trailing by 173 runs.

With a carpet of dark matter, though, on this Mohali pitch, on both sides of the wicket, the South Africa batsmen, even Amla and Superman AB De Villiers, will have a difficult time in the middle on Day 2 Friday.

India, after their poor batting performance, however, have to make the running; South Africa can play the waiting game, knowing a few runs and a decent partnership, and the pressure will be right back on the home side.