India, who are playing without their injured star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, suffered yet another blow as Kumble failed a late fitness test. His deputy MS Dhoni became the first wicketkeeper to captain India in a Test.
While South Africa retained the same squad that played the second Test in Ahmedabad, India made three changes. RP Singh and Irfan Pathan made way for Ishant Sharma and Yuvraj Singh, the extra batsman.
Kumble's absence gave an opportunity for young leg-spinner Piyush Chalwa to play his first Test since his debut in March 2006.
India: Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk/capt), Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma.
South Africa: Neil McKenzie, Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher (wk), Morne Morkel, Paul Harris, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini
Umpires: Billy Doctrove(Dominica) and Asad Rauf (Pakistan)
Third and fourth umpires: G A Pratapkumar, Sanjeev Dua
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama