Further joy was to come for the raucous Cape Town crowd as Morne Morkel removed captain and dangerman Kohli (5) with his first ball, India closing on 28-3 and leaving Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma with the sizeable task of rescuing their reply. South Africa, which was 3-12 and in similar trouble at the start of the day, battled its way to 286 all out in its first innings. The Proteas won the toss and went into bat first.
South Africa needed half-centuries by AB de Villiers (65) and Du Plessis (62), and a rally from its tailenders, to get close to 300.
It was a miserable end to a day that started so well for the tourists, Bhuvneshwar needing only three balls to dismiss Dean Elgar for a duck as he edged behind, Hashim Amla (3) doing the same after the seamer had trapped Aiden Markram lbw for five.
However, De Villiers and Du Plessis came to the rescue with a 114-run partnership, during which De Villiers surpassed his fifty.
De Villiers hit Bhuvneshwar for four boundaries and took a single.
Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada also made useful contributions as they scored 35 and 26 respectively.
The fast bowler's initial reaction at the time of the injury suggested that it was nothing serious - although he stopped his run-up and immediately threw the ball to Vernon Philander to complete the over, he jogged part of the way off the field, stopping occasionally to grab his boot.
Kumar was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Ashwin took two and Bumrah, Pandya and Shami chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Dhawan was on his way back to the pavilion the very next over as he was caught and bowled by Steyn for a quickfire 16.
Steyn in fact was getting into the groove as he had figures of 2 for 51 with wickets of opener Shikhar Dhawan and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha during his comeback Test.
India ended day one on 28/3 and will continue batting on Saturday at 10:30 local time or 08:30 GMT.