DHARAMSALA, India, March 25 (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat against an Indian side missing their inspirational skipper Virat Kohli through injury in the fourth and final test on Saturday.
The tourists, who forced a draw in the third test in Ranchi, were unchanged for the match that marks the debut of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium as a test venue.
“It looks like a nice wicket, little bit of grass, probably more than we have seen throughout the series so far,” Smith said at the toss.
“But there’s plenty of cracks and craters. I think as the game goes on it will be difficult for batting.”
India made two changes, with left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav replacing Kohli as India, to be led by Ajinkya Rahane, opted to bolster their slow bowling department.
Kohli had hurt his shoulder while diving to stop a boundary in Ranchi and his participation in the decider was always in doubt especially with the 28-year-old saying he would play only if he was 100 percent fit.
“As per team rules, anyone who’s not fit will opt out. As a leader he opted out. He’s not 100 percent fit,” Rahane said.
“We were looking to bat first here. But this is a very good track and will remain for two-three days as a batting wicket. We are playing five bowlers here so for us it’s important to start well.”
In the other change, seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar replaced fellow paceman Ishant Sharma.
The four-test series remains level at 1-1.
India: Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav
Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins, Steve O‘Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood (Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)