India vs Australia: Laxman expects a new hero in Kohli's absence

Former India batsman V.V.S. Laxman, who had a terrific record against Australia, feels the absence of Virat Kohli for the major part of the Test series is a chance to find a new hero.

V.V.S. Laxman believes the touring team should take inspiration from its previous outings against the Aussies.   -  FILE PHOTO/R. RAGU

V.V.S. Laxman knows what it takes to perform in the challenging conditions of Australia. And talking from experience, the former India batsman believes that while the touring side will miss captain Virat Kohli for the major part of the Test series, there could be a new hero emerging in his absence.

Kohli will return home after the first Test, to be with his wife Anushka Sharma, who is expecting their first child. And in his absence, the seasoned Ajinkya Rahane is expected to lead India.

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“Virat Kohli is a nemesis for the Australians. If you see his record, it is second to none on Australian soil. As a captain and as a world class batsman, he has always batted with authority against Australia in their own backyard. So definitely, there is no doubt that India will miss the impact of Virat, but I think this could be an opportunity for someone else to step up,” Laxman told Sportstar.

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“That’s the beauty of international sport. When some big player - in this case, it’s Virat - misses out, it is an opportunity for some other players to step up and showcase his talent and I hope that there will be some other hero who will emerge in the series,” the former India international, who had tremendous success against the Australian team during his playing days, said.

Under Kohli’s leadership, India clinched a Test series in Australia for the first time since Independence - in 2018-19 - and it was Cheteshwar Pujara, who played a key role.

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“Last time, in the batting unit, it was more of Pujara and Virat, and in bowling, it was a combined effort. I am hoping that there will be a new hero, who will emerge in the absence of Virat in this series,” Laxman said.

Having been part of quite a few tours Down Under, Laxman admits that its always a challenge to beat Australia in its backyard. And this time around, with the players staying inside the bio-bubble, it could have an impact on their mindset.

However, Laxman is confident. “There is no doubt that living in a bio-bubble is a challenge for anybody. But the way the players have handled that in the IPL, I am confident that they will embrace the challenge because they know that representing the country is the biggest honour,” Laxman said.

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Being the mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, Laxman has recently witnessed how the cricketers managed themselves in a controlled environment for nearly three months.

Instead of thinking too much about the challenges, Laxman believes that the touring team should take inspiration from its previous outings against the Aussies. “They have to just go back and revisit what they did in the previous Australia tour and it’s not only about the skill, but also the mindset. I thought everyone - right from the batsmen to the bowling unit - was aggressive in their mindset. And, if you have to beat Australia in Australia, it is very important that you are mentally strong and aggressive. That’s the reason why they won last time,” Laxman said. “I am sure they will continue to play with the same mindset, even this time around…”

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy will start with the day-night Test in Adelaide from December 17. 

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