Former Indian cricketer-turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar feels that the absence of champion batsman Virat Kohli from the last three Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is a massive setback for the erstwhile No.1 ranked Test side in the world.
Virat Kohli will head back to India after the culmination of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval in order to be with his wife and Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma, who is set to deliver the couple’s first baby in January.
Terming, Virat Kohli as ‘half of Indian batting’ in overseas conditions, Sanjay Manjrekar reckoned that the Test series in Australia will test the bench strength of Indian cricket to the hilt.
“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,” Sanjay Manjrekar told 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.
“In Virat’s absence, Ajinkya Rahane should step up”- Sanjay Manjrekar
Manjrekar further added that in the absence of Virat Kohli, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane should step-up at the N0.4 spot besides adding that India should try Shubman Gill at number six, with Hanuma Vihari batting at 5.
“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.
The first Test of the four-match series will kickstart at the Adelaide Oval from December 17. The second, third, and fourth Tests are set to be held at MCG [Dec 26-30], SCG [Jan 07-11] and Brisbane [Jan 15-19].