October 2, 2019 / 4:07 AM / 15 days ago

Cricket-India bat in opening test against South Africa

Oct 2 (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat in the opening test of the three-match series against South Africa at Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

Both teams went with two frontline fast bowlers with the pitch expected to offer turn for the slow bowlers.

Limited-overs stalwart Rohit Sharma will get a chance to flourish in the longest format in his new role as a test opener while wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha replaced Rishabh Pant.

The 34-year-old Saha played the last of his 32 tests against South Africa in Cape Town in January last year but had struggled to find a way back into the squad with shoulder and hamstring injuries hampering his progress.

“It’s a no-brainer, we are going to bat first,” Kohli told the broadcaster.

“Looks like a pretty good wicket. We think it’s going to play well for the first couple of days then the nature of the pitch is to get slow and get a bit of turn. Toss is always crucial here and good to bat first.”

The Faf du Plessis-led side begin life without retired veterans Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla and will have to find a way to handle India’s spinners if they are to make a strong start to their World Test Championship campaign.

The touring side handed a debut to spin-bowling all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy.

“Obviously quite a dry pitch, our coin toss record in the subcontinent is not the best,” du Plessis said. “We have to make sure first innings when they bat we have to be on it. First innings runs is always important in the subcontinent.

“We have lost a few test players ... It’s a fresh start for a lot of new faces, a very young group. It’s a nice challenge for us. These guys will be the next Dale Steyns and next Hashim Amlas.”

Teams:

India - Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami

South Africa - Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Vernon Philander, Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dane Piedt (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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