India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first on day one of the second Test against the Proteas at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
India replaced batsman Hanuma Vihari with fast bowler Umesh Yadav, while the tourists dropped spinner Dane Piedt for debutant Anrich Nortje.
Fast bowler Nortje has been capped at ODI and T20I level and has taken 162 wickets in 47 first-class matches at an average of 25.72.
‘There is a bit of grass on this pitch. There will be something in it for the bowlers at the start. You can almost take day four and five out of the equation, if you bowl really well in the first innings,’ said visiting captain Faf du Plessis.
‘We just need a bit of extra pace – and a three-seam attack. We couldn’t take 20 wickets in the first Test, so Nortje is a good wicket-taking option. It’s a big day for him.’
This is Kohli’s 50th Test as captain. Only Test retiree Mahendra Singh Dhoni has more.
‘With the hard pitch, the grass on the pitch and the reverse-swinging option on this track, we needed a new seam option. Vihari misses out unfortunately and Umesh comes into the side. We bat until eight in the order, so there is no problem with batting depth,’ added Kohli.
Last week’s 203-run victory in Visakhapatnam afforded India an early lead in the three-match series. That win was built on the back of a double-century from opener Mayank Agarwal and twin tons from the hard-hitting Rohit Sharma.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Photo: Gallo Images