India Will Raise Their Game in Kohli’s Absence: Sunil Gavaskar

Pujara, a hero of the last tour to Australia, along with Rahane will have to drive the India batting feels Gavaskar.

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Virat Kohli’s planned paternity leave has seen a lot of people talking about how it will affect the Indian team’s batting in the Test series against Australia. Kohli will return to India after the first Test which is slated to be played in Adelaide.

Kohli averages 53.62 after 86 Tests and by sheer force of personality, he can often change the course of a Test match. His record in Australia is very good too – in 12 Tests, he has scored 1274 runs including six centuries with an average of 55.39. His absence is something the Australian pace attack with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins would be more than happy to exploit.

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar says the other Indian batsmen will rise to the occasion.

“If you actually have a look, India have won every time Virat wasn’t there, be it the Dharamshala Test against Australia, the Afghanistan Test, Nidahas Trophy or the Asia Cup in 2018,” Gavaskar told The Times of India.

“Indian players do tend to raise their game when he is not around. They understand they have to make up for his absence.”

Cheteshwar Pujara, a hero of the last tour to Australia, along with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane will have to drive the Indian batting in Kohli’s absence feels Gavaskar.

“It’s going to be tough for Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara,” Gavaskar added. “Both these players have to bat out of their skin. Captaincy will actually help Rahane. He will feel a lot more secure and in control of situations. The selection committee is clear about who should lead in Virat’s absence and he has done well as a Test captain.”

However, last time when India won the series against Australia in Australia, it was Pujara’s grit and the bowlers who did most of the damage.

Pujara scored 521 runs in 2018-19 and he batted long hours, 1258 deliveries for those runs, and in his own way broke down the Australian attack.

They were exhausted by the time the last Test came around and mentally, they weren’t in the battle anymore. Of late, there has been some criticism of the pace at which Pujara scores, his career strike-rate is just 46.18, but Gavaskar believes it is best to just let him be.

“Pujara should be allowed to play the game he knows best,” said Gavaskar. “That’s what got him here. You don’t tamper with a player’s natural aptitude or temperament. Like you never told Sehwag how to play, nobody should be telling Pujara how to get runs as long as he is getting the runs and the hundreds.”

Gavaskar added: “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.”

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