Without Virat Kohli, the Indian team is believed to be left with a big void in the second, third and fourth Tests against Australia, but former captain and renowned commentator and columnist Ian Chappell reckons India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane possesses the leadership skills required to lead the team in Kohli’s absence. Rahane, India’s vice-captain in Tests, is expected to lead the team once Kohli returns for the birth of his first child, and based on what he’s seen of the 32-year-old’s captaincy, Chappell feels Rahane is a wonderful replacement for Kohli.
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“As far as captaincy is concerned, I saw Ajinkya Rahane captain in one Test match against Australia when Australia were in India a few years back and it was the deciding Test match. And I was very, very impressed with Rahane’s captaincy,” he said while speaking to Michael Holding on the West Indies great’s YouTube channel.
“I thought he was very positive, very aggressive. When the game was in the balance, he always took the aggressive option and he batted well at a time when India were probably going to win anyhow but things had got a little bit shaky. And he came in and took on Pat Cummins and took them home to victory.”
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Rahane has in the past filled in for Kohli. During the 2017 Border-Gavaskar Trophy an injured shoulder ruled Kohli out of the final Test in Dharamsala. With the series tied at 1-1, Rahane, captaining India for the first time in Tests, led the team to an eight-wicket win, allowing India to clinch the four-Test series 2-1.
“At least, they have got a very good replacement captain. And the other thing is if Australia, I don’t think they will do this, if Australia thinks that ‘Kohli is gone home and all we have to do is turn up’, if they think like that, it will be a big mistake. I don’t think they will be complacent,” Chappell added.
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Plenty has been spoken of Kohli and how his unavailability will put pressure on India against a hostile Australian attack at home, but Chappell is confident of the abilities in India’s batsmen – the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (the highest run-scorer in the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy) and Rahane himself – believing it’s a wonderful opportunity for the youngsters to make a mark.
“He [Kohli] will be a big loss but they have got some very good young batsmen. India, of all the international countries, is producing very good young batsmen and that’s been the case for a while now,” he said.
“And if the young blokes take the attitude: ‘alright, Kohli is gone, so this is a great opportunity for me to win myself a permanent place in the Indian side’, then it augurs well. Yeah, no one is going to totally replace Kohli but, as you know, in a team, when you lose a star player, everybody else has got to do that little bit extra and you can make up for it.”