India need not lose sleep over Virat Kohli’s absence in the last three tests against Australia but Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara will have to shoulder extra responsibilities, feels former captain Sunil Gavaskar.
Cheteshwar Pujara batted for nearly 30 hours and faced a record 1258 balls on India’s last Test series in Australia (AFP Photo)
- India captain Virat Kohli will return home from Australia after the 1st Test in Adelaide
- Gavaskar said Rahane and Pujara will have to shoulder extra responsibilities in Kohli’s absence
- Pujara was the highest scorer in the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar series with 521 runs at 74.42 including 3 centuries
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar wants to see senior players Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane step up and take the responsibility of scoring bulk of the runs when Virat Kohli’s comes back home from Australia after the first Test which starts from December 17.
Kohli will feature in the 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is and the Day-Night Test in Adelaide before returning to Mumbai to attend the birth of his first child with wife Anushka Sharma.
Test vice-captain Rahane will be leading the Indian team in the remaining three matches and needs to shoulder extra responsibilities along with Pujara, feels Gavaskar.
“Indian players do tend to raise their game when he is not around. They understand they have to make up for his absence.”
“It’s going to be tough for Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. Both these players have to bat out of their skin,” Gavaskar told the Times of India, citing some of India’s major victories in Kohli’s absence.
DON’T TAMPER WITH PUJARA
Gavaskar also encouraged Pujara to bat in the same way he did the last time India toured Australia in 2018-19. Pujara was the highest scorer in the Border-Gavaskar series with 521 runs at 74.42 with 3 centuries and a fifty.
The Saurashtra batsman’s form and classical style of play was one of the major reasons behind India’s historic 2-1 triumph. He batted for nearly 30 hours and faced 1258 deliveries to break Rahul Dravid’s record for the most deliveries faced in a Test series in Australia.
Pujara likes to wear the bowlers down by batting for long hours without worrying too much about the scoring rate. Even the famed Aussie attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon looked clueless and tired against him which is why Gavaskar said Pujara should be allowed to play his natural game just like he did nearly two years back.
“That’s what got him here. You don’t tamper with a player’s natural aptitude or temperament. Nobody should be telling Pujara how to get runs as long as he is getting the runs and the hundreds.
“If he is let alone and no pressure is put on him, that’s going to work in India’s favour. He is so rock steady, the others can score around him and play shots,” said Gavaskar, who was the first batsman to score 10,000 Test runs.