Warner, who was among the first players to come to Hughes’s aid when he was fatally struck by a bouncer in a domestic game last month, cracked his first ball for four on the way to reaching his 14th Test half-century off just 45 balls.
After moving tributes to Hughes, Australia, who won the toss, reached lunch at 113 for the loss of Chris Rogers and Shane Watson, with Warner on 77 off 73 balls and skipper Michael Clarke not out nine.
Warner was at his pugnacious best, plundering 37 runs off his first 20 balls and giving Australia a positive start against the sobering backdrop of the Hughes tragedy.
There was a poignant moment when Warner looked to the heavens upon reaching 63 — Hughes’s score when he was felled — and the crowd responded with sustained applause.
Clarke was also given a huge ovation as he came to the wicket, an acknowledgement of his leading role in the days after Hughes’s death, in which he read a tribute at the funeral and was one of the pallbearers.
Rogers was dismissed in the eighth over for a pedestrian nine off 22 balls when Ishant Sharma coaxed an edge to Shikhar Dhawan at second slip.
Watson followed in the 19th over, giving Dhawan his second catch in the slips off Varun Aaron and making way for Clarke to come to the wicket.
Pacemen Mohammed Shami and Aaron proved expensive early before Sharma steadied things with a maiden in his opening over. Skipper Virat Kohli introduced Test debutant leg-spinner Karn Sharma in the 18th over to take the attack to the Australians.
There were tributes to Hughes before the game got underway with players and fans standing and applauding in unison for a symbolic 63 seconds.
The Australian and Indian teams, both sporting black arm bands, lined up in respect for the well-liked batsman.
Prominent broadcaster and former Australia captain Richie Benaud also narrated an emotional video shown on the ground’s big screen, finishing with the words: “Forever, rest in peace, son.” (AFP)