Japan to face China in World Baseball Classic tournament on Thursday

Major League Baseball's two-way sensation Ohtani Shohei will take the mound in Tokyo on Thursday for Samurai Japan's first game against China in the World Baseball Classic tournament.

The fifth WBC features 20 teams divided into four groups.

Japan will face China, South Korea, Czech Republic and Australia in Pool B games in the first round-robin stage, which will be held at Tokyo Dome. The two top teams will advance to the quarterfinals.

Japan, a two-time WBC champion, is looking to win the championship for the first time in three editions.

Ohtani joined Team Japan in early March. He has taken part in two practice games as designated hitter, where he went three-for-four with six RBIs, including two home runs.

Japan manager Kuriyama Hideki on Wednesday announced that Ohtani will start for Japan's first game.

Kuriyama also said that when he was picked to coach the team, he vowed to aim for the top. He added his resolve remains unchanged -- he will only think about Japan becoming the world's No. 1.