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India wins toss, bats in 1st test in SA

December 18, 2013

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — India won the toss and elected to bat on Wednesday in the first test against top-ranked South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to front up to South Africa’s pace attack on a traditionally quick, bouncy pitch on the opening morning of the two-test series between the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams.

India recalled Zaheer Khan to boost its own seam attack; the left-armer’s first test appearance in a year. Virat Kohli was listed to bat at No. 4 in India’s first test since Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. Cheteshwar Pujara was to bat at No. 3 and Rohit Sharma at 5. Batsman Ajinkya Rahane also came into the Indian side.

South Africa fielded what it considers its strongest lineup, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander forming the seam attack. Legspinner Imran Tahir was also retained and batsman Hashim Amla returned after missing South Africa’s last test against Pakistan in October for family reasons.

South Africa cannot be overtaken at the summit of the rankings this series but India can close the gap to one point with a 2-0 sweep. The top team has gone 13 series unbeaten, while India last won a series away from home in 2011.

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Lineups:

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Murali Vijay, Shikar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami.

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