Spinners bowl hapless South Africa out for 214
India 80 for 0 (Dhawan 45*, Vijay 28*) trail South Africa 214 (De Villiers 85, Jadeja 4-50, Ashwin 4-70) by 134 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Virat Kohli's India showed they were not one-trick ponies, choosing to field on what turned out to be a proper Test-match first-day pitch and bowling out South Africa for 214 in a little over two sessions. The show of intent was clear: on a pitch that looked damp they went in with just the five batsmen, brought in an extra seamer and when they found no help for the quicks, the spinners ran through the hapless visitors. India were on in the field too: every ball was chased down with intent, and there were at least three excellent catches taken.
Playing his 100th Test, AB de Villiers put up a workshop to show his team-mates that it was possible to bat in India - scoring 85 off 105 out of the 132 runs that came while he was at the wicket - but R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took four wickets each. Ashwin removed Stiaan van Zyl and Faf du Plessis in his first over, the eighth of the day, and Jadeja was responsible for the big wicket of de Villiers. Only some poor running by Imran Tahir and Kyle Abbott denied one of them a five-for.
India might have misread the conditions a little, but they certainly did not have enough time to fret over it. This was only the 20th time in 246 Tests in India that a side had decided to field. Bangalore had taken a lot of rain in the week leading up to the Test. Kohli felt there was moisture underneath the surface, and overheads in such weather in Bangalore generally assist movement in the air. Accordingly Kohli brought in Binny ahead of Amit Mishra, retaining Varun Aaron ahead of Umesh Yadav, who had to make way for the returning Ishant Sharma.
It will be fair to assume from the first few overs that India expected more from the pitch. Ishant and Binny - opening the bowling - found little bounce or seam movement in what was a comfortable start for the South Africa openers. Before unease could set in, though, Kohli had the luxury of going to Ashwin, who is in such imperious form that South Africa have been playing the man and not the ball.
The first ball Ashwin bowled was short of a length and into the pads. As Dean Elgar took an easy single, Ashwin held his hand up in apology to his captain. The standards are high for what is expected of Ashwin nowadays. Immediately he corrected both the line and the length, and for the second time this series van Zyl played a new-ball offbreak from Ashwin for the turn, and was trapped plumb lbw by the actual ball, which only straightened marginally.
In came du Plessis, unsure of his defence, and jumped out of his crease, hoping for something in his reach. Ashwin refused to oblige, the dip on the ball taking it away from du Plessis, who flicked at it hopelessly. Cheteshwar Pujara, at forward short leg, plucked a low one. Du Plessis' scores in the Tests now read 0, 1 and 0 after 62, 51, 60, 17 and 133 in the ODIs.
Aaron went for 12 in his first two overs, but Kohli persisted with him. In his third over, he bowled a length that hit top of the stumps, and then got it to hold the line to square Hashim Amla up and send the off stump cartwheeling. Had Amla been slightly forward, he would have covered the movement, which was slight, but it is quite possible it was Aaron's pace that kept Amla from pressing forward. The seam on this delivery pointed to fine leg, and yet it moved away.
An encouragingly bigger crowd than the one in Mohali gave a warm welcome to de Villiers, and India offered him four overthrows early on. That was pretty much the last freebie he would get. His team-mates, who just needed to be there with him, were just as uncharitable. Just after lunch, Elgar swept Jadeja from his improvised guard of off stump, possibly slightly outside. He had managed a good connection on a similar shot before lunch, but this time he tickled it fine, and onto his own stumps. JP Duminy struggled for 15 in a 42-run partnership before edging Ashwin to slip when playing back: had he pressed forward he would have struggled to get to the pitch anyway because this turned from an in-between length.
De Villiers, 44 off 54 now, looked sublime amid chaos. Almost every ball that was slightly loose was put away. The pick of the shots came when he danced down to a 90kmph Jadeja delivery, and managed to drive it through extra cover for four. It is difficult to score runs alone, though. Dane Vilas provided him company for 15 runs in a 39-run partnership, but much like Dale Steyn in Mohali, Vilas lost his head here, stepping out and chipping Jadeja back for a return catch.
De Villiers took up the scoring duties exclusively now, manipulating fields that were spread out for him. When he danced down the wicket to Jadeja in the last over before tea, he too was found taking defensive action. The ball lobbed up from around the pad area, and Wriddhiman Saha flew to where the forward short leg would have been to take a stunner. The third umpire confirmed that the low catch was clean, but did not contemplate whether de Villiers had hit the ball. No more replays were shown. Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott added 37 for the ninth wicket to take South Africa to their first 200 in the series, but Binny ended that stand with a brilliant catch running behind and over his shoulder.
Just the right time for India openers then to drive the screw in. The first target was for Shikhar Dhawan to get off the mark in the series, and then for the first wicket to reach 20 for the first time in nine Test innings. Then they batted fluently and without pressure, which has been a rare event, with a long time spent on the road. Imran Tahir provided the exclamation mark to South Africa's day of horror, dropping M Vijay on 21. Dhawan raced away to 45 off 62, the time saved might come in handy should forecasts for rain materialise during the rest of the Test. A word of warning for South Africa: all of Dhawan's scores of more than 37 have been 81 and upwards.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo