India, replying to South Africa’s first innings total of 214, were 80 for no loss at stumps on the opening day of the second Test in Bangalore on Saturday.
Murali Vijay was unbeaten on 28 and opening partner Shikhar Dhawan was on 45.
AB de Villiers, playing his 100th Test, top-scored with 85 after South Africa were sent in to bat in overcast conditions at the Chinnasamy stadium.
Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja claimed four wickets each.
India won the first Test in Mohali by 108 runs to take the lead in the four-match series.