Smith wins toss, Australia to bat 1st in 3rd test vs India
RANCHI, India: Australia skipper Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat first against India in the third test, a match that could prove pivotal with the tense, four-match series locked at 1-1.
The week leading up to the match in Ranchi have been overshadowed by the rancorous debate Smith's controversial "brain fade" when he looked to the dressing room hoping for help in deciding whether or not to use the Decision Review System late in the second test and Virat Kohli's claims that the Australians had abused the system throughout the match.
Smith admitted to making the mistake once and apologized, avoiding any sanction. He said his India counterpart's accusations were "rubbish," but Kohli has not backed away from the comments he made immediately after winning the second test to level the series.
Australia won the series-opener at Pune by 333 runs, and India leveled with a 75-run win in Bangalore. In both matches, the pitch has played a significant role in the outcome.
It's expected to be no different in Ranchi, where Smith has described the pitch as looking like "rolled mud" and both teams expecting the ball to keep low.
Australia made two injury-enforced changes, with Pat Cummins coming into the starting lineup to replace pace bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell replacing Mitch Marsh as the allrounder.
It will be Cummins first test — and only second overall — since his player-of-the-match performance on debut against South Africa in 2011. Maxwell last played a test in 2014, against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
India made only one change, with opener Murali Vijay recovering from injury to return to the lineup in place of Abhinav Mukund. Karun Nair has been retained as the hosts have gone with a four-bowler attack again.
India: Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steven Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Steve O'Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney, New Zealand, and Ian Gould, England.
TV umpire: Nigel Llong, England. Match Referee: Richie Richardson, West Indies.