Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes Ajinkya Rahane, who is likely to lead India in three of the four Tests in Australia, will be under “no real pressure” while leading the team.
Rahane is set to take over the reins of the Indian team from Virat Kohli once the latter heads back home for the birth of his first child after the end of the first Test.
Gavaskar, speaking on Star Sports show Game Plan, reckoned Rahane will take confidence from the success he enjoyed the last two times he led the Indian team.
“There is no real pressure on Ajinkya Rahane, because both the times that he has led the team, he has won,” said the batting legend. “He led against Australia at Dharamshala and India won. He led against Afghanistan and India won. So, as far as his captaincy is concerned, there is going to be no pressure because he knows that at the moment, he is only the stand-in captain for the three Test matches.
“So, I don’t think the fact about being a captain or carrying on as captain is going to be part of his thinking at all. He will do the job as honestly as he plays his cricket, which means, as a batsman, he will go out there and try and let Cheteshwar Pujara try and grind the opposition in and play few more shots maybe.”
Gavaskar was also full of praise for Pujara, who played a massive role in India’s series victory in Australia the last time around.
“Out of 20 days of Test cricket that we have ahead of us, we are really happy to have him (Pujara) bat for 15 days, there is no question about it,” said the 71-year-old.
“Whether he has played any cricket or not, I don’t think it’s going to make any difference because he is so strong mentally. He loves batting, he loves being at the crease, he loves wearing the bowlers down. In the last two years, he has also improved his strokes and range of shots.”
Meanwhile, former Australia opener Matthew Hayden believes the hosts will be wary of getting “hurt” by Pujara once again.
“As you know Australians love to drink coffee, and we have decided to go on a little campaign to make sure we have plenty of caffeine when it comes to watching Pujara bat,” said Hayden.
“But, you know what the reality is, he hurt us badly (on the last tour). We are of a generation now where we are admiring people for their strokeplay, we are admiring people for their strike-rate. Well, he is one of the few guys in Test cricket who has a strike-rate of sub-45 but he can still hurt you.”