NEW DELHI, Nov 21 (Reuters) – India needn’t lose sleep over Virat Kohli’s absence in last three tests against Australia, but Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara will have to take responsibility additional, said the great Sunil Gavaskar.
Regular skipper and mainstay Kohli will return home after the opening test in Adelaide next month to witness the birth of his first child with deputy Rahane who will lead in the remaining three matches.
“Indian players tend to improve their game when he’s not around,” former Indian captain Gavaskar told The Times of India newspaper, citing some of India’s victories in Kohli’s absence.
“They understand that they have to make up for his absence.”
“It’s going to be tough for Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. These two players have to come out of their skin.”
Rahane has sometimes ruled India and is believed to be responsible for it, Gavaskar said.
Pujara was voted man of the series when India defeated Australia 2-1 in 2018/19, becoming the first Asian team to triumph in a series of Down Under tests.
Known for his impeccable temperament, Pujara prefers to reduce attacks with his compact defense and Gavaskar said the top-notch hitter should be allowed to play his natural game.
“That’s what got him here. You don’t change a player’s natural skills or temperament,” said Gavaskar, who was the first hitter to score 10,000 tries.
“… nobody should tell Pujara how to get races as long as he gets the races and the hundreds.”
“If he is even less so and there is no pressure on him, it will work in India’s favor. He’s so stable that others can score around him and play shots.”