India without captain Virat Kohli in Tests will be akin to Australia without Steve Smith and David Warner, according to former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson.
India will be missing Kohli in upcoming Test series in Australia as the 32-year-old right hander will return home for the birth of his child after the first Test.
“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 wrote in his column for the Sydney Morning Herald.
With 7,240 runs at an average of 53.62, Kohli is the highest run scorer in the Indian squad for the Tests and is ranked in the ICC rankings for the longest format of the game behind Smith.
India had won the previous Test series they played in Australia with the hosts missing Smith and Warner and still reeling from the aftermath of the 2018 ball tampering scandal.
Since the duo came back, however, Australia have experienced a reversal in fortune culminating in them pipping India at the top of the ICC Test Championship earlier this month.
Lawson said that Australia’s biggest strength now compared to what they had before the 2018/19 Test series against India is that they have options. “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,” said Lawson.
“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,” he said.