Veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin will make his first Test appearance in 14 months after Matthew Wade was ruled out with an ankle injury - but he will have to wait until at least Friday with heavy rain soaking the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium and forcing the day to be abandoned.
Australia did, however, name their XI, which includes 35-year-old Haddin, flown over as cover this week for the injured Wade, as well as off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who was favoured ahead of all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
Elsewhere, captain Michael Clarke announced he would bat at No.3 - a promotion of two places - in an effort to add starch to the faltering top order.
With the scratching of Wade - who had twisted his ankle playing basketball at the weekend - Australia had been left with only 12 players to choose from thanks to the suspensions of vice-captain Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja for a breach of team discipline.
It means another opportunity for Steve Smith in the Australian middle order, more than two years after the 23-year-old played the last of his five Tests, and a reprieve for Phil Hughes, who has struggled in this series but will bat at No.4 in Mohali.
“There’s no doubt that somebody’s loss is somebody else’s gain and a big part of international cricket is getting a chance,” Clarke said.
“A few guys who are going to get a chance in this game have been waiting for this opportunity and now it is about grabbing it with both hands.
“We have to win the next two Test matches, we have to play good positive cricket, I think that’s how we play our best cricket and I think that is how Steven Smith plays his best cricket as well. He’s a very good athlete, he gives options when he bats, bowls, fields and he’s trained exceptionally well on this tour and he deserves his opportunity.”
There were four changes in total to the team hammered by an innings and 135 runs in Hyderabad.
Haddin's 43-Test career appeared over when he was replaced by Wade on last April's tour of the Caribbean after he had to return to Australia for personal reasons. However, he has remained in the good books of selectors with an impressive season with the bat at domestic level and will now get an opportunity he may have thought would not present itself again.
Australia: Warner, Cowan, Clarke (c), Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Henriques, Siddle, Starc, Lyon, Doherty. Maxwell (12th man).