South Africa, without injured seamer Dale Steyn who will miss the rest of the series with a heel problem, weathered a first-wicket stand of 30 for India in reply.
Kohli acknowledged that his side's batting had been costly.
"Well in hindsight, we lost by 70-odd, if we had taken chances in the first innings, they would have been 220", said Kohli in the post-match presentation. We plugged that gap pretty nicely in the morning today. This selection had seemed a foregone conclusion as India flew to South Africa, but a late injury to Dhawan seemed to have pushed him out of contention. "I walked out there and the spikes went straight in, and I said to Faf, I think it's going to be a touch on the slow side because of the moisture in the wicket", he said.
"He's (Hardik Pandya) a strong character". We needed to bat better than what we did.
"Well, a left-hander (Shikhar) always helps".
"I knew that I had to bowl overs upfront and put us in a good position, and I just wanted to bowl and make a difference", added Philander.
The product of groundsman Evan Flint's work was central to one of the most rivetting matches yet seen in South Africa.
With day three completely washed out, this Test match was completed within nine sessions over just three days. Maybe we need to be more positive in the next innings and take their bowlers on and get good runs on the board just like they did when they were put under pressure. He may have collected the majority of his Test runs outside India, but the bulk of them have been in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - hardly benchmarks for Test quality at the moment.
The first of Rohit's three most recent Tests before this one actually came in October 2016, which means the "current" form Kohli spoke of wasn't entirely current. They have got two, including Quinton (de Kock) in their batting order. "It is hard for bowlers to set up their lines and lengths everytime the strike is rotating well", the Delhi right-hander reasoned.
"Well, we chose to go on current form".
Kohli also refused to be drawn into the hype of quicker and faster wickets welcoming his team as the series moved to the Highveld for games at Centurion and Johannesburg, stating that with a little application India would be to exploit even those conditions. "We have to try and create plans that we feel will not let the opposition gain momentum very early on in the game and that's the idea behind it".
Hailing the efforts of his bowlers in the second innings to restrict the hosts for a paltry 130 and an overall lead of 207, Kohli said: "We were thinking 250, 275 if they play well. We would have taken that if someone told 208 would be the target", the captain was honest in his admission. Also we rectified the errors we made in the first innings by letting them off after having them 12 for 3.