MELBOURNE: Rishabh Pant has come in for Dinesh Karthik in the playing eleven as India have won the toss and elected to bat first against Zimbabwe in their final Group 2 match of Super 12s in the T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Pant, the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter, will be making his first appearance in the ongoing tournament.
"Rishabh is the only guy (from the batting group) who hasn't played a single game, including the practice games. We wanted to give him a game before the semi-finals," said Rohit on getting him in place of Karthik.
India have a 5-2 edge over Zimbabwe in T20Is overall. But Sunday's match will be the first time that these two teams will be meeting in a T20 World Cup game. Netherlands' shock 13-run win over South Africa earlier in the day meant India became the first side to qualify for the semifinals from Group 2.
A win for India will mean they will finish Group 2 as table-toppers, and face England, who finished second in Group 1, in the semifinal. But a defeat for India would lead to them likely finishing second in Group 2, behind Pakistan, and meet New Zealand, the Group 1 toppers, in the semifinal.
"It's the preference of the team, nothing to do with the pitch. Pitch looks good. We wanted to give our bowlers a chance to defend a score. Nothing changes, we need to do well as a team," added Rohit.
Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine said the side have made two changes to their playing eleven -- Wellington Masakadza and Tony Munyonga in for Milton Shumba and Luke Jongwe.
"Milton has struggled a bit and we wanted to give Tony a chance. Luke Jongwe has an injury and we wanted the spin of Wellington Masakadza. We felt we hadn't been using our pace resources fully in the previous matches, so we decided to go with the extra spinner," he explained.
Ervine also said that he was happy to bowl first against India. "We had some fielding sessions yesterday under lights, and it seemed like there was some dew. The ball might skid through in the evening under lights. If that happens tonight, it could help us."
India (Playing XI): KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma(c), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant(w), Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
Zimbabwe (Playing XI): Wesley Madhevere, Craig Ervine(c), Regis Chakabva(w), Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Tony Munyonga, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Wellington Masakadza, Blessing Muzaraban