Amit Mishra R Ashwin India
The presence of R Ashwin is a huge boost for India in the first Test against South AfricaIANS

A huge sigh if relief would have gone through everyone in the India camp when R Ashwin was passed fit, with the home team knowing the importance of the offspinner going into the first Test against South Africa in Mohali, starting Thursday.

Spin or without spin, Ashwin is a vital cog in the India Test machine and Kohli will breathe more freely knowing he will have the option of using the man from Chennai against the wonderfully-talented South Africa batting lineup.

"There is no doubt that he is a very good bowler," South Africa opener Dean Elgar was quoted as saying by BCCI's official website about R Ashwin. "He is probably India's bowling spearhead right now

"Facing him will be a great challenge and something I really look forward to. You can only prepare with the best you have. Luckily we have a few off-spinners in our side and I prepare by facing them in the nets.

"But facing the guy in the middle and preparing for him in the nets is two different things.

It has been a while since India played a proper Test series at home, and even longer since such a big one, and with all eyes on the two teams, neither will want to blink first.

South Africa will be full of confidence after clinching both limited-overs series, even if they will know the rest test lies in, err, the Test matches.

India will also know they need to improve – with bat and ball. If they play the kind of inconsistent cricket that they did in the T20I and ODI series, South Africa will walk away with victory. The bowling needs to come to the fore, and take those 20 wickets, while the batting needs to back them up as well.

"If you want to take a team in certain direction, you have to give them the freedom of expression and room to grow as cricketers," Kohli, who said he will go with five bowlers in this first Test match, said. "You have to let them make mistakes and learn from them. The responsibility factor is something we have stressed on in this squad.

"We are giving guys more ownership of whatever is going on inside the field. I have been telling them that I might be the captain, but that doesn't mean you all are not supposed to make suggestions.

"It is a matter of every guy standing in the field and thinking, 'I can captain myself' and I have equal responsibility for what is going on in the field.

"That is the mindset we want to go forward with, where every member of the squad, including those who are not playing, feel they can contribute to the team, and are involved."

Live Streaming and TV Information (Where to Watch Live)

Get the story on South Africa's innings and what to expect on Day 2 HERE

Get the report on India's first innings HERE

Get the Live Blog and Score HERE

India vs South Africa 1st Test match is scheduled for a 9.30 am local time (6 am SAST, 4 am BST, 12 am ET) start. Star Sports 1and Star Sports 3 are the channels which will broadcast the match live in India. Audience in India can also watch this crucial opening Test match betwen India and South Africa live from Mohali via live streaming online on and Hotstar.

Viewers in South Africa can watch all the action on SuperSport, with the online live stream option on SuperSport Live.

Audience in the US can watch India vs South Africa 1st Test live on Willow TV, with the live stream option on Willow TV online.

Sky Sports 2 will show the India vs South Africa match live in the UK, with the live streaming online option on Watch Sky Sports and Sky Go.

Watch the fourth Test match action in the Middle East and North Africa live on OSN Sports, while the match can be live streamed on OSN Play.

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