Pilkadaris was runner-up in Queenstown on the back of some stunning scoring over the first three days and maintained that form at the unorthodox DLF Golf Club in round one.
Just seven players broke par over 72 holes last year at the controversial Gary Player design though scoring proved somewhat friendlier on day one in 2018.
Pilkadaris is one of 36 players in red figures already, six birdies in a 3-under round of 69 seeing him trail leader Emialiano Grillo of Argentina by four shots.
Play was suspended late in the day due to darkness with 24 players yet to complete their opening rounds.
Of the eight Australians in the field Wade Ormsby is the only other in red figures aside from Pilkadaris, David Gleeson among those with holes still to play.
Ormsby is at 1-under with Jason Scrivener and Marcus Fraser sharing 57th place at 1-over.
Jason Norris is in the clubhouse at 2-over while Gleeson is at the same mark with three holes to play, Andrew Dodt struggling to a 4-over 76.
Scott Hend endured a horror opening day which included four double bogeys and five other dropped shots on his way to a 10-over 82.
Thursday at DLF Golf Club did not go to plan for Scott Hend.
He made a bogey at his opening hole and the first of his four doubles at the second in a front nine that included only two pars.
Three more bogeys against two birdies saw him to the turn in 4-over 40 but after a run of three pars and a birdie to begin the inward journey he looked to be back on track.
A dropped shot at the 14th, however, was the beginning of the end, a double at 15 and two more at 17 and 18 making the scorecard damage irreparable.
There were no such issues at the top of the leaderboard where Grillo, taking a break from the PGA Tour to tee up in India, reeled off eight birdies against just one bogey in his course record equalling 65.
"You have no idea how difficult the course is," Grillo said after his round.
"I had to play almost perfect golf to shoot a seven under. I think anywhere else it would have been close to a 59 or something.
“It was definitely a magnificent round of golf. I’m very happy with the way I handled myself out there. It was very tough and I was able to make some good putts and hit the fairways when I needed to."
Among those sharing second two behind Grillo is Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal whose score might have been even more impressive after he barely made his tee time.
The four-time European Tour winner got a new iPhone this week and was unaware it was set to Spanish time.
"My lovely new iPhone went back to Spanish time overnight and I woke up at the hotel 38 minutes before my tee-time," he said.
"Thanks to Dorothée, the secretary of the European Tour, who called me in my room and said 'Pablo, you're playing in 38 minutes, you must wake up and go to the tenth tee'.
"I woke up, had a ten-second shower and I ran and had a courtesy car waiting for me. I arrived at the course 25 minutes before my tee-time. My heart was pumping big time, I was very nervous.”
While far from ideal the mad dash did little to harm his game, it seems, with Larrazabal managing nine birdies on his way to a 67.
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