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Tendulkar backs India without Kohli, Rohit

Sachin Tendulkar is confident India have the batting depth and talent to overcome the absences of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in their four-Test series against Australia.

Skipper Virat Kohli will fly home after this week’s series opener in Adelaide for the birth of his first child and injured opening batsman Rohit will miss at least the first two Tests.

However, Tendulkar told Reuters India still had 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 by telephone late on Tuesday.

“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, backed fellow Mumbai cricketer Ajinkya Rahane to successfully step into Kohli’s shoes as skipper for the last three Tests.

“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.”

Tendulkar expects batting to decide the series and said building partnerships would be crucial for both sides as their bowling strengths are evenly matched.

In 2018, India defeated an Australia side without Steve Smith and David Warner, who were serving bans from a ball-tampering scandal, and Tendulkar said their return, plus the emergence of Marnus Labuschagne, would made this series more difficult for the tourists.

“If you look at Australia’s batting lineup, it is far better than last time,” he added.

“They have more experience. Last time the experience element was missing, it was evident.”

Another concern for Tendulkar is that the series opens with the day-night match in Adelaide from Thursday, India’s first Test since February and only their second ever under the lights.

“The last Test should have been the pink ball match so that gradual transition is there,” he said.

“We haven’t played Test cricket for 10 months and now the first Test match that we will play will be with pink ball. Ideally players would have found a normal Test match an easier transition maybe.”

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