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Australia bat first, Kohli out of final Test


Australian skipper Steve Smith won the toss Saturday and elected to bat first in the series-deciding fourth and final Test against India in Dharamsala.

The tourists, tied 1-1 in the series, remained unchanged from the side that salvaged a draw in the third Test at Ranchi.

India were without their inspirational captain Virat Kohli who failed to regain 100 percent fitness after injuring his right shoulder on day one of the Ranchi Test.

Debutant chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav was brought in to replace Kohli after the hosts opted to go for a five-man bowling attack.

In the other change to their side, the Indians replaced fast bowler Ishant Sharma with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane took over the captain’s duties, becoming the 33rd skipper to lead India in Tests.

“He (Kohli) is not 100 percent fit so he opted out. We will have to step up here,” said Rahane.

“We are playing five bowlers so we need to get two-three early wickets.”

Smith was wary of the pitch at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association ground which is hosting its first-ever Test.

“There is a bit of a grass, but there are cracks and craters. Could be more bounce than on some of the earlier pitches. That’s my reading, but I have been wrong before,” he said.

Australia need just a draw to take home the Border-Gavaskar trophy, having triumphed at home in 2014-15.

A victory for the tourists will see them win their first Test series in India in 13 years.

Whatever the result, India will retain their number one Test ranking.


India: Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.

Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith (capt), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA) and Ian Gould (ENG)

TV umpire: Chris Gaffaney (NZL)

Match referee: Richie Richardson (WIS)


© Agence France-Presse