India have been dealt a major blow with captain Virat Kohli ruled out of the series-deciding Test against Australia in Dharamsala.
Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and immediatley opted to bat in the fourth Test, confirming an unchanged XI from the side that drew the third match in Ranchi last week.
It became clear Kohli was ruled out some 20 minutes before the coin toss as the India superstar failed to warm-up with his teammates. Ajinkya Rahane became India's 33rd Test captain while left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav came in to make his debut.
Quick single: India will be fine without Kohli: Smith
India made two changes to the their side from the third Test, with pace bowler Ishant Sharma joining Kohli on the sidelines. Fellow pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar comes into India's side.
Kohli had been racing against the clock to recover from the shoulder injury he sustained on day one in the third Test in Ranchi and was given until the 11th hour to prove he should play, undergoing a rigorous fitness Test on Saturday morning.
@MitchJohnson398 Seems India going a batsman light and loading up with three spinners/two seamers. Unlikely we'll see another draw here!— Andrew Ramsey (@ARamseyCricket) March 25, 2017
On Friday, Kohli was adamant that if he was not 100 per cent fit he would not take the field for the fourth Test with series deadlocked at 1-1.
"When we put these things in place the first thing I said was 'I'm not different from anybody else'," Kohli said on Friday.
"The same process applies for me as it does all the other members of the team.
"There's no special treatment for anyone.
"If I'm 100 per cent fit for the game is the only condition that I will take the field.
"The physio wants to give it a bit more time till I can test myself and will probably make a call on it later tonight or tomorrow before the game.
"We'll have to give it that much time more for me to make that call with the physiotherapist."
Kohli faced a handful of gentle throwdowns with no pads on Friday in the HPCA Stadium nets before he spent the rest of the session as a spectator talking to his teammates.
He later returned in full protective kit for a nets session under the watchful supervision of team physiotherapist Patrick Farhart.
Quick single: Smith's timely blessing ahead of fourth Test
When he went off in the 40th over on day one in Ranchi he did not return to the field in the remaining 89 overs of Australia's first innings while in the second innings he stood at first slip and barely handled the ball.
"At this stage the injury has an element of being aggravated in the field," he said. "While batting there's no problem whatsoever of it getting aggravated.
"I've taken medication after last game so I'm hoping it takes some more time for me to get back to the normal movements I have (when fully fit)."
Kohli was due to undergo a rigorous fitness Test on Saturday morning to determine his participation in the winner-takes-all match at the foot of the Himalayas.
"That (fitness test) is full match scenario; playing against 140kph bowling, reactive movements in the field, (and) whether I can move as well as when I'm 100 per cent or not," he added.
Kohli's absence is a huge blow for the hosts despite the right-hander averaging just 9.2 in five innings. However Kohli was confident his players could rise to the challenge and regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
"I'm sure the guys will take it as an opportunity to still take the team ahead," Kohli said.
"Everyone is really proud and motivated to play for the country.
"Me playing or not playing shouldn't make that much of a difference to the other 10 guys because they have a responsibility to fulfil as well.
"I have not done anything special so far but still the guys have fought it out and that's why we're the No.1 team in the world.
"We have quality players in the side who want to step up given these opportunities.
"If that happens I'm sure the guys are looking at it as the game-changing game of their lives."
Quick single: Renshaw a key to changed India fortunes
Australia captain Steve Smith said on Friday he had no doubt Rahane will be able to adequately lead India in Kohli's place.
"I think (India) would be fine," Smith said when asked what the impact of Kohli's absence would have on the hosts.
"I think Ajinkya Rahane would probably step up to captain their side.
"I thought he did a pretty good job last week when he was out on the field in Virat's absence.
"I'm confident he'll be able to do a good job for them."
Australia XI: Warner, Renshaw, Smith (c), SMarsh, Handscomb, Maxwell, Wade (wk), Cummins, O'Keefe, Lyon, Hazlewood #INDvAUS— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 25, 2017
India XI: Rahul, Vijay, Pujara, Rahane (c), Nair, Ashwin, Saha (wk), Jadeja, Kumar, Umesh, Kuldeep #INDvAUS— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 25, 2017
Australia's schedule in India
Feb 23-27, First Test, Pune – Australia won by 333 runs.
Mar 4-8, Second Test, Bengaluru – India won by 75 runs.
Mar 16-20, Third Test, Ranchi – match drawn.
Mar 25-29, Fourth Test, Dharamsala