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By Ian Ransom
ADELAIDE, Dec 6 (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first in the series-opening test against Australia at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, leaving Tim’s Paine’s side to face a scorching day in the field.
India confirmed that specialist batsman Rohit Sharma would take the number six spot vacated by the injured fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya, with spin bowling all-rounder Hanuma Vihari missing out.
“It’s great batting conditions, fresh pitch, I think the ball will come onto the bat nicely,” said Kohli, bidding to lead India to a first ever test series win Down Under.
“It’s a hard pitch with good grass on it. Plus the weather’s going to play a part.
“We’ve gone with the same combination as Australia, three seamers and a spinner ... and we’ve solidified our batting a bit.”
Temperatures are expected to soar to 39 degrees Celsius, leaving a potentially tough day for Australia’s seamers, who lack the support of dropped fast-bowling all rounder Mitchell Marsh.
“I’d have liked to have had a bat but having said that, in domestic cricket over the last couple of years there’s been a bit more (in the wicket) than it looks,” said Paine.
“(Quicks) Mitchell Starc, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Pat) Cummins will be a handful for the first couple of hours.”
Australia named their 11 on Wednesday, handing a debut to opener Marcus Harris and dropping vice-captain Marsh in favour of specialist batsman Peter Handscomb.
Batsman Usman Khawaja takes his place in the side despite the arrest of his brother on charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and forgery on Tuesday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team lost the last series Down Under 2-0 in 2014/15.
The series continues after Adelaide with tests in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Australia - Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
India - Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.
Rporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney