Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first on the first day of the third Test match against South Africa at Nagpur’s VCA Stadium on Wednesday.
Kohli said the pitch looked firm but dry, as he would have expected from Nagpur, and was thus a good Day 1 batting pitch. Kohli’s South African counterpart Hashim Amla said he, too, would have liked to bat first, adding that he expected the pitch to break early on.
There are two changes to the Indian team. Rohit Sharma is included in place of pacer Varun Aaron while legspinner Amit Mishra replaces all-rounder Stuart Binny. India are going with three spinners and one pacer for this Test.
For the Proteas, pacer Dale Steyn is not fit, still recovering from a groin injury. Right-arm off-break bowler Simon Harmer is in the squad in place of pacer Kyle Abbott.
With AB de Villiers the only Proteas batsman to have made a half-century in the first two matches, the visitors will look to offer greater resistance to spin in this match, which they must win in order to stay alive in the four-Test series. India is leading 1-0 with the top-ranked tourists struggling to acclimatise to the pitches which offer help to spinners.The Proteas have not lost an away series in nine years, but India will look to reset that statistic in this match itself.
A 108-run loss at Mohali in under three days in the first Test was followed by a draw at Bangalore in which only the opening day’s play was possible because of rain. South Africa was bowled out for 214 in that game, its highest score in three innings so far and the only time it crossed 200. India was comfortably placed at 80-0 in reply before rain washed out the remaining days.
“We haven’t played our best Test cricket,” Amla said on Tuesday. “We were in the match for the first three innings of the Mohali Test but then we failed in the last innings and did not bat well again in the last Test. So, it hasn’t been the full-flowing Test cricket that we’re normally used to.”
Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma
Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Dane Vilas (wicketkeeper), Kagiso Rabada, Simon Harmer, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir