Mumbai: India Test skipper Virat Kohli admitted that India will miss the services of experienced duo Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in the upcoming Test series against South Africa. The duo’s absence means that India will be tested on the opening front as well as in their lower-order batting and five bowlers’ combination.
Sharma had been rested from Tests against New Zealand and was promoted as vice-captain ahead of trip to South Africa. But in a practice session in Mumbai, Sharma injured his left hamstring, thereby ruling him out of the series with Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal drafted as his replacement.
Sharma had scored 906 runs in 21 innings at an average of 47.68 and was India’s highest run-getter in Test cricket in 2021. In India’s last Test against England at The Oval in September, Sharma was the ‘Player of the Match’ for his wonderful knock of 127 off 256 balls in India’s 157-run win.
“We will miss his (Sharma) abilities a lot. He has proven in England already that he has really worked his Test game out and the opening partnership was very important for us to play the way we did in the series. With his experience and skill, we will miss his qualities,” said Kohli in the pre-departure virtual press conference.
“But having said that, I think it’s an opportunity for someone like Mayank (Agarwal) and KL (Rahul) to step up and solidify that start that we got in the last series and make sure that the good work is carried on in this series as well,” added Kohli.
Coming to Jadeja, he was out of second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai due to swollen right forearm. He was not selected for South Africa tour due to injury. Kohli believes that the all-rounder’s unavailability will not be a ‘deciding factor’ in the series, especially with his like-for-like back-up Axar Patel being absent due to injury as well.
“Jadeja has obviously been a very, very important play for us. He contributes in all three departments of the game, which is invaluable especially in overseas conditions. He will be missed,” kohli said.
“But having said that, we do have quality in the side to be able to create the best combination possible on the field for us and still be in positions to win Test matches because we have created that kind of bench strength and environment where people coming in are seizing their opportunity and making sure the team is helped by their performances.
“As much as we will miss him, I don’t think that will be a deciding factor in the series or moving forward. He is injured and I wish him a speedy recovery and that he comes back soon,” he added.
India will leave for South Africa on December 16 to take part in the series comprising three Tests and as many ODIs from December 26 to January 23.