INDORE, India, Oct 8 (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli maintained his perfect toss record in the series and opted to bat in the third and final test against a New Zealand side who welcomed fit-again skipper Kane Williamson back in the squad on Saturday.
For the hosts, who hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, Gautam Gambhir returned to play his first test in two years, replacing injured opener Shikhar Dhawan, while Umesh Yadav substituted fellow paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The tourists also made a couple of changes with Henry Nicholls paving the way for the Kiwi skipper, while all-rounder Jimmy Neesham recovered from a rib injury and comes in for paceman Neil Wagner.
“It looks like a pretty good wicket. It should play pretty well in the first couple of days. Just want to put up a good total on the board,” Kohli said after winning his third successive toss.
The pitch at the Holkar Stadium, which debuts as a test venue with this match, sported several cracks but Kohli predicted an even contest between bat and ball over the next five days.
“It’s always been a batting-friendly wicket. Spinners could come into play from day three, day four onwards. It will be an even contest,” he said.
Williamson, who missed the second test in Kolkata with viral illness, said his team would try to get the most of the early conditions.
“It’s little bit tacky. We’d be looking to exploit the conditions in the first hour,” he said, conceding his team played well only in patches.
“We’re still yet to play our best cricket. India have been very good. It’s important that we try and put them under pressure for a lot longer than we have in the last two games.”
India: Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, BJ Watling, Jeetan Patel, Matt Henry, Trent Boult. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O‘Brien)