Dubai: Virat Kohli, the India captain, has backed Ajinkya Rahane to lead the Men in Blue in his absence during the last three Tests of the four-match series against Australia, as the template is set and everyone in the team is aware of their roles.
Kohli will return to India after the end of the first Test that begins on Thursday to attend the birth of his child. Vice-captain Rahane will step in to lead the side in the last three Tests. The Mumbai batsman led the team in the two warm-up games against Australia A.
Kohli, who called leading the team a collective effort and not just him strategising in front of people, added that both he and Rahane have a mutual understanding which is based on trust.
“Firstly we have had mutual understanding and respect over the years. We have had great partnerships batting together which is based on trust and understanding of what needs to be done for the team. Jinx (Rahane) has done a tremendous job in the two practice games that have happened. He seems to be very composed and knows the strengths of our team and how we need to go about things,” said Kohli on the eve of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval.
“Actually, the way we have played our cricket has been a collective effort of the whole team. It is a cultural effort and not only down to me strategising in front of people. It is the whole team that is important to it. We already know the template that we play with and how we want to go about things.”
Rahane has earlier led India twice in Test cricket — once against Australia in Dharamsala and other against Afghanistan in Bengaluru. On both the occasions, India emerged victorious.
Kohli said that both he and Rahane are “absolutely on the same page” and exuded confidence that the middle-order batsman will do a tremendous job in leading the side in his absence.
“But the focus remains, till the time I am here, to be able to do captaincy and leadership and batsmanship to the best of my abilities. From thereon I am pretty sure that Jinx will do a tremendous job. I have said this previously that this is the time to step up and strongly perform as captain and individual,” said Kohli. “I think he will do a good job when I am back home. The vision remains to put in good in performances and make sure we are on the same page and that we are competing every game.”
India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar agreed with Kohli, saying India have the batting depth and talent to overcome the absences of both Rohit Sharma and Kohli in the series. Injured opening batsman Rohit will miss at least the first two tests.
However, Tendulkar insisted India still have enough runs in the side to compensate and deliver a second successive series victory in Australia following their maiden triumph in 2018.
“Our batting has enough depth,” the 47-year-old, who remains the most prolific run-scorer in tests, said. “Rohit wasn’t there in New Zealand also, it’s not the first time that we are travelling without Rohit. Nothing is guaranteed ... sometimes players get injured and are ruled out of a tournament or an entire series. One has to be prepared to play without whoever that individual is. Eventually it is about the team, not about individuals.”
Tendulkar, who captained India in 25 Tests before standing down to focus on his batting, also backed fellow Mumbai cricketer Rahane to successfully step into Kohli’s shoes.
“I’ve seen Ajinkya lead earlier. He’s quite a calm, composed guy, balanced guy. He’s aggressive but he’s in control,” he said. “I’ve seen him closely, he’s someone who wants to learn, who wants to grasp as many things as possible. I find him a very sincere, hardworking player.”