Sport India win toss, opt to bat against South Africa

India win toss, opt to bat against South Africa

India captain Virat Kohli .
India captain Virat Kohli .

India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat in the first match of their four-test series against South Africa on Thursday.

With the Mohali surface expected to provide significant assistance for the spinners, Kohli, who turned 26 on Thursday, went in with three slow bowlers for the match.

Ravichandran Ashwin will lead the spin attack with leg-spinner Amit Mishra and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who returns to the Indian side after a gap of almost 15 months.

Regular openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan returned to the team after both batsmen suffered injuries during India’s last test series in Sri Lanka. They replaced Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul.

“Looks like a pretty good wicket to bat on day one. Just going to look to capitalise on the best batting conditions that are available on day one,” Kohli said at the toss.

“Not a bad start. Hopefully we will bat well and it will be a better birthday.”

India chose Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav as their two fast bowlers with Ishant Sharma serving a one-match ban for misconduct during the third test in Sri Lanka.

South Africa handed a test debut to 20-year-old fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, who was impressive during the limited-overs series that the touring side won.

Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander will be the other fast bowlers with leg-spinner Imran Tahir and off-spinner Simon Harmer the two slow bowlers.

All-rounder JP Duminy and fast bowler Morne Morkel missed out after getting injured during the one-day series.

“I think it’s definitely a good wicket to bat first on. If I had won the toss I would have probably batted too,” South Africa captain Hashim Amla said.

“Games are not won on the first day so it’s important for us to bowl well and put India under pressure.

“Sometimes it’s a bit more pressure on the batters on a wicket like this.”

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, Dane Vilas, Vernon Philander, Simon Harmer, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir