India won the toss and elected to bat first.
Losing two openers, Murali Vijay (6) and Shikhar Dhawan (13)P quickly India were at one point reduced to 24 for four.
Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara (25), who had performed well in Indian conditions earlier, added 89 runs in the third wicket partnership to help India stabilise the partnership after initial jolts.
In the 43rd over, Pujara got run out Rohit Sharma (14) did not last long to make situation difficult for the home side. Kohli on the other hand was playing some good shots and hit 18 boundaries in his 181-ball knock before losing his wicket to Jacques Kallis.
Ajinkya Rahane shined with his willow at a time India needed someone to hold one end and remained unbeaten on 43 at stumps.
Skipper MS Dhoni (17*) and Rahane will resume India's proceedings on Thursday.
Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kallis have picked up one wicket each.
India have lost the ODI series 2-0 earlier in the tour.
This is the first Test India is playing after batting icon Sachin Tendulkar's retirement.
--IBNS (Posted on 18-12-2013)