Former Indian cricketer and now commentator Sanjay Manjrekar feels that Ajinkya Rahane should step up to the Number four position in the absence of India skipper Virat Kohli in the last three test matches.
Virat Kohli will head back to India after playing the first day-night Test in Adelaide to be with his wife Anushka Sharma, who is due to give birth to their first child in January. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already granted him a paternity leave. Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma’s availability in the test series is still not confirmed. He will be reassessed on December 11 in National Cricket Academy (NCA).
“Mayank Agarwal walks in as opener in Tests, let’s assume that Rohit is not playing the first two Tests, I would go for Prithvi Shaw as the second opener. Let’s see how it goes and if Shaw shows the poor form as he did in the IPL, then Shubman Gill can be looked at. 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 told ANI.
Further, calling Virat Kohli’s absence as ‘a huge set back for the Indian side’, Manjrekar said that Kohli is the ‘half the Indian batting’. He also said that the test series against Australia will be a ‘test of the depth of India’s cricket talent.’
“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, Kohli not being thereafter the first Test is a massive setback,” said Manjrekar.
“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, 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,” he added.
India and Australia are currently facing each other in the first ODI match in Sydney. They are scheduled to play three ODIs, as many T20Is and four-Tests. The Border Gavaskar Trophy will begin from December 17 in Adelaide.