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Australia win toss and bat as Virat Kohli ruled out

Associated Press logo Associated Press 25/03/2017 CHETAN NARULA, ASSOCIATED PRESS
India's captain Virat Kohli tosses the ball in the air during the practice session ahead of the fourth test cricket match against Australia in Dharmsala, India, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal) © The Associated Press India's captain Virat Kohli tosses the ball in the air during the practice session ahead of the fourth test cricket match against Australia in Dharmsala, India, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

DHARAMSALA, India — Australia won the toss and opted to bat in the fourth cricket test here on Saturday after India captain Virat Kohli was ruled out with injury.

In a massive blow to the hosts, Kohli had still not sufficiently recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained whilst fielding on day one in the third test at Ranchi.

Ajinkya Rahane leads the Indian team in his absence, with the stand-in skipper making a couple of gutsy calls in his first test in-charge.

Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav has been handed his test debut as the hosts have opted for five bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also comes in for Ishant Sharma.

Rahane is India's 33rd test captain, while Dharamsala becomes the 27th test venue in the country. It follows Indore, Rajkot, Visakhapatnam, Pune and Ranchi in hosting a maiden test this home season.

The pitch at the HPCA Stadium has a little sprinkling of grass on the surface, just enough perhaps to aid the fast bowlers in the beginning. It explains why India has gone in with Kumar, as he can swing the ball both ways.

However, the wicket is also quite dry beneath the initial green layering and should take turn as the match progresses, thus explaining the three-spinners' combination for the hosts.

Australia have retained the same playing eleven as in the third test. The visitors are on the cusp of a first series win on Indian soil since 2004-05.

The four-match series is level at 1-1. Australia won the first test in Pune by 333 runs, while India won the second test in Bengaluru by 75 runs. The third test in Pune was drawn.

Teams:

India: 1 Murali Vijay, 2 Lokesh Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 5 Karun Nair, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Ravichandran Ashwin, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Umesh Yadav.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Matt Renshaw, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Steve O'Keefe, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus, South Africa, and Ian Gould, England.

Third Umpire: Chris Gaffaney, New Zealand. Match referee: Richie Richardson, West Indies.

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