Indian skipper Virat Kohli will head back home following the opening Test of the four-match series against Australia in order to be with his actress wife Anushka Sharma at the time of the birth of their first child. And former Australian cricketer Geoff Lawson believes that India without Kohli will be like the Aussies without their star players Steve Smith and David Warner.
The 32-year-old captain, who is set to become father in January 2021, has been granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and he would return to India from Down Under after the first Australia Test beginning December 17 at the Adelaide Oval.
Lawson, in his column for the Sydney Morning Herald, stated that Kohli’s absence will be greatly felt not just for his batting efforts but also for the way he lifts the psyche of the entire squad.
“India without Virat Kohli will be like Australia without Smith and Warner. It’s not just the runs he makes, but the way he lifts the psyche of the whole group,” Lawson said.
Notably, Kohli is the leading run scorer for his side in the longest format of the game with a total of 7,240 runs in 86 matches he played for India at an average of 53.62. In fact, Kohli is currently placed just behind Smith in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen.
India are the defending champions of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after they became the first Asian side to defeat Australia in a Test series Down Under in 2018-19 under Virat Kohli’s captaincy.
Australia missed the services of former skipper Steve Smith and former vice-captain David Warner who both missed the last series due to the one-year suspension imposed on them for their involvement in ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March 2018.
And Lawson believes Australia’s biggest strength heading into the upcoming series will be that they would have plenty of batting options in comparison to what they had in the 2018-19 Test series.
“Australia have risen on the back of drawing away with England and then beating a well-below-strength New Zealand and thumping a classic Pakistan at home last summer. And as the international season looms, No.1 Test nation Australia finds itself in an unusual situation: there are options for batting spots,” he stated.
However, Lawson admitted that India would continue to pose a difficult challenge to Australia as they are the defending champions and that their pace attack is performing well.
“Indian cricketers will be expecting the unexpected. They will be a handful, given they are defending the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, won on Australian soil for the first time two years ago, and their fast bowling group continues to grow in stature,” the former Australian cricketer stated.
Besides Test series, the two sides are slated to play three match ODI series and as many T20Is, starting from November 27 at the Adelaide Oval.