Before India travelled to Australia for the upcoming series, a big news came out from the BCCI camp. India captain Virat Kohli was granted paternity leave in December which meant that he will only play the first Test against Australia and will miss the remaining Test matches. It was a big call and while many cricketing pundits have dubbed it as a necessary move for Kohli to be with his family, many are also wondering how the India batting order will fare in Kohli’s absence.
Kohli had a fantastic season the last time around in Australia as he had scored 282 runs in 4 Tests at an average of 40.29. Under his leadership, the Indian team had created history becoming the first Asian nation to win a Test series Down Under.
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But the last time around - Steve Smith and David Warner were not in the team – as they were serving their 12-month ban. The duo will be back this time around, and will provide much-needed depth to Australia batting order.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes that Kohli’s absence will leave a big hole in the India batting order. “India also face a selection dilemma when skipper Virat Kohli departs for home for the birth of his first child following the opening Test. This creates both a big hole in the Indian batting order and an opportunity for one of their talented young players to make a name for himself,” Chappell wrote in his column on ESPNCricinfo.
Chappell also pointed out the confusion over the opening pair in the Australian camp, something that has become a focal point in the past few weeks.
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“Speaking of confusion, I was flummoxed by the Australian coach’s summation of the choice between incumbent Joe Burns and rising star Will Pucovski for the job of David Warner’s opening partner,” Chappell wrote.
“If no one else is vying for the position then Burns retains his place. However, Pucovski has been banging on the door for a while now – something Langer craves. Pucovski has taken a sledgehammer to the entryway by making six centuries at Shield level, three of them doubles; two of those double-hundreds came this season. He has well and truly proved he is good enough at that level, so it’s time to see if he can succeed in the Test arena,” he added.
“What was already shaping up as an exciting tussle now has the added stimulus of crucial selection decisions. The result could well come down to who is the bravest set of selectors,” the former Australian cricketer signed off.