PERTH (Reuters) – Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat first in the second test against India at Perth Stadium on Friday, backing his under-pressure lineup to get through expected pace-friendly conditions.
India confirmed it would boast a four-pronged pace attack with speedster Umesh Yadav replacing spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who was ruled out with a left abdominal strain.
Spin bowling all-rounder Hanuma Vihari came in for injury-hit middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma.
Australia named an unchanged lineup on Wednesday despite a 31-run defeat in the series-opener. Paine overcame an injury scare after appearing to injure his troubled right index finger on the final day in Adelaide.
“It’s obviously really warm today … and with some hot weather around we expect it’s going to crack up and be hard work,” said Paine.
“Everyone’s recovered really well and ready to go and yeah, we’re happy to be batting first.”
India captain Virat Kohli said India would have batted as well if he had won the toss but was looking at the positive.
“But (it’s) not a bad thing to bowl on the first day on a pitch which has a lot of grass on it,” he said.
“As batsmen, we’ll have to see how the wicket behaves and it might not be a bad thing to see how it plays out. We’ll look to get in with the ball in the first hour and make some inroads.”
The grassy pitch is expected to conjure swing and bounce in a throwback to the nearby WACA’s heyday. It is the inaugural test at the shiny, new 60,000-seat stadium located in Burswood.
Temperatures are expected to soar to 38 degrees Celsius, contributing to sluggish ticket sales with about 20,000 spectators tipped for day one.
India have never won a test series in Australia, while the hosts are aiming to snap a barren streak of six tests without victory.
The series concludes with the Boxing Day test in Melbourne and the New Year’s test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
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, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury