Australia wins toss, bats in 3rd cricket test against India
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia has won the toss and will bat first in the third cricket test against India.
The four-match series is tied 1-1 after Australia won the opening day-night match in Adelaide by eight wickets and India responded with an eight-wicket win in Melbourne last week.
Australia will give a debut to 22-year-old opening batsman Will Pucovski, who has recovered from a concussion sustained in a tour match and will go immediately into action with David Warner at the top of the order.
Warner is also returning from a groin injury after missing the first two tests. Matthew Wade, who has been playing as a makeshift opener, will slide down the order to No. 5 and Travis Head has been dropped from the XI.
India also made two changes.
Rohit Sharma will replace opener Mayank Agarwal after showing no signs of discomfort from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for the limited-overs portion of the tour and the first two tests. He’ll also be deputy to stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, whose gritty century guided India to victory in Melbourne.
India also made enforced changes to its bowling attack, with 28-year-old right-arm fast bowler Navdeep Saini selected for a test debut to support Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, who took five wickets on test debut last week. Saini replaces Umesh Yadav, who joined fellow fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma on the injured list. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are expected to have an influence on a wicket that takes turn.
Rahane said he was excited to have Rohit back, and looking forward to seeing Saini in action in the test arena.
“He worked really hard on his bowling, on his fitness,” Rahane said. “He’s been really good in domestic cricket.”
A win for India will ensure it retains the Border-Gavaskar trophy, although it needs a 3-1 series win to regain the No. 1 test ranking.
The Australians were replaced at No. 1 on Wednesday by New Zealand, which completed back-to-back test sweeps of West Indies and Pakistan at home to take the top ranking for the first time. A win for Australia in Sydney will put them back on top.
Pucovski has played just 23 first-class matches but has been a contender for a test debut for two seasons.
The right-hander has twice withdrawn from Australia’s squad to deal with personal issues, and has had nine concussions.
Australia: David Warner, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj.
Umpires: Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson, Australia.
Match Referee: David Boon, Australia. Third Umpire: Bruce Oxenford, Australia.
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