NEW DELHI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to bat in the third and final test against South Africa on Saturday as the hosts chase a series sweep in Ranchi.
Having lost the last two tosses, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis turned up with Temba Bavuma as the proxy skipper for the flipping of the coin and yet Kohli won his third successive toss of the series.
Local favourite Shahbaz Nadeem will make a surprising test debut after being called up late on Friday as cover for fellow left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav who complained of left-shoulder pain.
“It’s a no-brainer to bat first on this one,” Kohli said after looking at the strip which sported numerous cracks even on day one.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be slow but it will keep low. It should spin at a decent pace. As long as it turns with pace on the ball, we don’t mind the bounce,” said Kohli.
Paceman Ishant Sharma has been rested, he added.
“It shows that it isn’t meant to be,” du Plessis said after failing to snap South Africa’s losing streak in toss in India.
“Important toss as this looks the driest surface of the series. It’s about the first innings really and we need to put runs on the board when we bat,” he added.
Smarting after comprehensive defeats in Visakhapatnam and Pune cost them the series, South Africa effected wholesome changes to their squad.
Quinton de Kock was elevated to the opener’s slot after Aiden Markram returned home with a self-inflicted injury sustained during the Pune test.
Heinrich Klaasen makes his test debut as wicketkeeper, while left-arm spinner George Linde will also earn his maiden test cap.
India: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
South Africa: Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)