The India cricket team heads out for the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on Jan 3, 2019. (Photo: PETER PARKS/AFP)

YDNEY - Reuters
Cricket: India to bat in fourth Australia test as seek series win

India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat first on the first day of the fourth and final test against Australia on Thursday.

India hold a 2-1 lead and just need to avoid defeat over the next five days at the Sydney Cricket Ground to take a first series victory in Australia.

"It will be tougher to tougher to bat on as the game goes on, so its ideal for us to bat," Kohli said. "We haven't discussed on the series win, we've focused on this game, and this is just an opportunity to win a test.

"We're not thinking any further than that.

India brought opener KL Rahul back into the side in place of Rohit Sharma, who has returned home to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Hanuma Vihari moves down the order to accommodate Rahul, who was dropped after the Perth defeat.

There was no place in the side for Ravichandran Ashwin, whose side strain was assessed again before the toss, with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav the second slow bowler in place of injured quick Ishant Sharma, who has a rib problem.

Australia made two changes to their team with opener Aaron Smith and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh dropped.

Usman Khawaja will open in Finch's place with South African-born Marnus Labuschagne taking his place at number three.

Peter Handscomb, selected for his proficiency batting against spin, slots into the middle order in place of vice-captain Marsh.

"We need to improve on all areas, need to do the basics better, said Australia captain Tim Paine, who said he would have also batted had he won the toss.

India won the series opener in Adelaide and the third test in Melbourne, while Australia claimed the second test in Perth.

Australia - Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

India - Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

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