ADELAIDE: Australia won the toss and chose to bat in the opening Test against India at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, a game being played against the backdrop of the tragic death of Phillip Hughes.
Michael Clarke was passed fit to lead Australia after recurring hamstring problems, while paceman Josh Hazlewood and batsman Shaun Marsh were left out of the starting XI.
India opted to give leg-spinner Karn Sharma his Test debut with Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Mohammed Shami to spearhead the pace attack.
The Australian players are wearing Hughes´ Test cap number 408 on their shirts for the match, while players and team management sported black armbands in honour of their former team-mate.
“The wicket looks fantastic … we´re ready to go and the boys are excited,” Clarke said at the toss.
“What I know my little buddy (Hughes) would want is going out and playing cricket.
“The boys are going as well as they possibly can, I think everyone´s keen to play some cricket.”
Prior to the start, the Australian and Indian teams stood before a large 408 painted on the playing surface to observe a video tribute to Hughes, narrated by former Australia Test captain and prominent cricket commentator Richie Benaud.
Following the tribute the team and spectators stood and applauded for 63 seconds in recognition of Hughes´s final unbeaten score.
Hughes, 25, died on November 27 from bleeding on the brain, two days after being knocked unconscious by a bouncer while batting for South Australia in Sydney, plunging the cricketing world into mourning.
Australia – David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon.
India – Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Karn Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA) and Ian Gould (ENG), TV umpire: Mick Martell (AUS)Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)