Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, will be returning to India after the first Test against Australia which is slated to begin December 17 in Adelaide. BCCI has granted him paternity leave, and he will be returning home to be with his wife and Bollywood superstar Anushka Sharma for the birth of their child.
Former India cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar believes that despite India having players to fill in the void, Virat Kohli’s absence is still a huge setback for India.
Virat Kohli Is Half The Indian Batting As Series Against Australia Is Test Of India’s Batting Depth: Sanjay Manjrekar
Virat Kohli averages above 50 in each of the three formats. In tests, at home, he averages 68.42 while away he averages 44.36.
“Kohli not being there, after the first Test is a massive setback. In foreign conditions, Kohli is half the Indian batting, Pujara stepped up last time in Australia, Kohli has been India’s most dependable player in foreign conditions,” Manjrekar told news agency ANI.
“So his absence will be a huge setback. This particular series against Australia is a test of the depth of India’s cricket talent in Tests,” Manjrekar added.
Virat Kohli averages 48.61 in 19 matches against Australia. He has a great record in Australian conditions as shown in 12 tests where he averages 55.39. With the exception of Brisbane, he averages more than 49 in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and WACA.
Ajinkya Rahane Should Step Up And Bat At No. 4 In Virat Kohli’s Absence: Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar feels stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane will be key for India in Virat Kohli’s absence. He reckons India will benefit from making Ajinkya Rahane bat in place of Virat Kohli at No. 4, and mentioned certain permutations and combinations the team can try out in the remaining three Tests after his departure.
“In Virat’s absence, Ajinkya Rahane should step up and bat at number four. Hanuma Vihari can bat at number five, if Shubman is tried in the middle order, then he should bat at number six,” Manjrekar further said.
“Rahane has been averaging more than 50 in his last nine Tests, we will have to wait and see whether Rahane steps up. In fact, it’s a question of the entire batting line-up stepping up. We have only seen them in white-ball cricket,” he added.
Ajinkya Rahane averages 44 in Australia. Cheteshwar Pujara averages 55.54 in Australia but has played fewer matches than the duo.