Virat Kohli, captain of the Indian cricket team, will return home after the first Test against Australia as his wife Anushka Sharma is set to give birth to their first child in January.
While Kohli’s paternity leave is being seen as a positive for the hosts, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar feels that the 32-year-old’s absence could actually be good for the Indian players.
“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. Indian players do tend to raise their game when he is not around. They understand they have to make up for his absence,” Gavaskar told TOI on Friday.
“It’s going to be tough for Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. 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,” Gavaskar added.
“Pujara should be allowed to play the game he knows best. 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 said.
“If he is let alone and no pressure is put on him, that’s going to work in India’s favour,” he added.