RANCHI, India, March 16 (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat in the third test against India on Thursday as focus returned to cricket after controversy overshadowed their previous match at Bengaluru.
The four-test series has seen considerable bad blood after Smith’s gesture towards the dressing room for advice on whether to review a leg before wicket decision in Bengaluru drew an explosive response from India captain Virat Kohli.
Both Smith and his counterpart Kohli have said their teams have moved on since, and pledged to play within the rules of the game in the first test match at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium.
“I don’t think there will be any great deal of bounce,” Smith said after winning the toss.
“Think it might take more spin as the game goes on. Hopefully we can post a good first innings total.”
Paceman Pat Cummins will be playing his second test after more than five years in wilderness, replacing Mitchell Starc who returned home with a fractured foot.
In a second forced change, Glenn Maxwell pipped fellow Victorian Marcus Stoinis to the number six position in the batting line-up, replacing the injured Mitchell Marsh.
On a high after levelling the series in Bengaluru, India welcomed back opener Murali Vijay who missed the tempestuous test with a shoulder injury.
Abhinav Mukund exited, after failing to shine in the makeshift opener’s role in Bengaluru where he scored 0 and 16.
Kohli said he too would have loved to bat first but was not too perturbed having lost the toss.
“Last couple of series we lost the toss four times but ended up winning all those games,” he said.
“It is a challenge when you lose the toss...We have prepared really well for this game and everyone is raring to go.”
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
India: Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Ranchi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)