Pune [India]: Australia have won the toss and asked India to bowl first in the opening Test of the four-match series at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium here on Thursday.
Following the toss, Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli insisted that the reverse swing would be the key in the game before confirming the inclusion of Jayant Yadav in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the squad.
“I don’t come to the toss expecting anything. These things you have to keep out of contention. Looking at it as a challenge. In place of Bhuvi, we have Jayant. Reverse swing will be a big factor. Three really good sessions of preparation,” Kohli said.
Steve Smith, on the other hand, said that his side’s prepation have been great, especially in executing their skills under pressure.
“It’s very dry, won’t bounce. Looks different to the T20 games I’ve played here. Our preparations have been great, about executing our skills under pressure. Two fast bowlers and an allrounder,” Smith said.
Riding on the euphoria of a fairytale 19-match unbeaten streak, India, who are the top-ranked Test team, would obviously seek extension of their incredible dominance on home turf.
The series against the Steve Smith-led side is the fourth and last home series of the 2016-17 season for India. They conjured up emphatic victories over New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0) and Bangladesh (one-off Test).
Meanwhile, Australia are touring India for a full Test series, for the first time, since they were whitewashed 0-4 by the hosts in the 2012-13 season. The Aussies later defeated India 2-0 in a four-Test rubber, played Down Under in the 2014-15 season.
Australia have not won a Test match in India since 2004 and their last series win in Asia came against Sri Lanka in 2011. Since then, they have suffered nine straight Test losses in the subcontinent.
The MCA stadium, which is making its debut as a Test venue, will become the 25th stadium to host a Test match in India.
India Playing XI: Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma.
Australia Playing XI: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith(c), Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade(w), Mitchell Starc, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.(ANI)