However, given that India has never ever won a Test series in Australia in more than 70 years of its touring history is reason enough to say that Australia would still start favourites in their home conditions.
Shaun Marsh will bat at four with Handscomb at five and Head at six.
After his break-out Ashes series last summer and strong start with 96 in the first innings against South Africa in March, Marsh has averaged exactly 10 in his past 11 Test innings.
Based on recent Tests at Adelaide Oval, which have been played on a lush pitch designed with one eye on protecting the pink ball, Australia believe they do not need an extra bowler. But, for many, a win in the series could be his legacy as a captain. "Gaining the respect of our country is as high a priority as is winning", said the wicketkeeper-batsman in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. And if that meant some verbal banter, then so be it.
Paine confirmed Marcus Harris would make his test debut and open the batting with Aaron Finch in the opener of the four-match series, Australia's first home test since Steve Smith and David Warner were banned over the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
The previous series between the two rivals have been heated, with the combative Kohli usually front and centre.
"They haven't had great success in Australia in the past, as Australia haven't had in India".
"I think from last time round, I've become more assured of myself, I don't really find the need to prove anything to anyone", he told Macquarie Sports Radio at the weekend.
"They're a good team and they've got a couple of great players and we will show them great respect", he said. With the allrounder missing, India would have to take a call on whether to play specialist batsman in Rohit Sharma or allrounder Hanuma Vihari.
India would go with the opening pair of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul with Cheteshwar Pujara at three, followed by Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.
India have picked Ashwin as their lone spinner while the trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami will handle the pace bowling duties.
"In terms of skill, in terms of experience, in terms of how we are playing, our mindset, we definitely feel we have the ability to win a series here", said Kohli.