‘Who’ll bat at four when Kohli goes’: Ricky Ponting warns Ajinkya Rahane before taking over as India captain in Virat’s absence

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting believes there will be added pressure on Ajinkya Rahane when he steps up to lead India in Virat Kohli’s absence in the last three Tests against Australia.

“India will feel that without Kohli there (for three Tests), for his batting and leadership, that’ll put all sorts of pressure on different players,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

“You’d think (Ajinkya) Rahane will take over the captaincy, which will put extra pressure on him, and they’ve got to find someone to bat at that really important No.4 spot.

Kohli will be available only for the day-night Adelaide Test match before flying back to India to be with his wife Anushka Sharma who will give birth to their first child.

Although BCCI are yet to announce the India captain for the final three Tests, vice-captain Rahane is more or less certain to lead in Kohli’s absence.

“I don’t think they’ll be clear in their own mind, even now, what their batting order will look like for the first Test. Who’s going to open, who’ll bat at four when Kohli goes?” Ponting added.

Ponting said more than the Australia batting line-up it will be Kohli’s men who will under pressure and uncertain about their batting-order during the Test series.

“The questions that are being asked around Australia with Pucovski and Green, I think India have got a few more questions to answer.

The Indian bowling attack will comprise Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in lead roles. The tourists will call on Ishant Sharma if he recovers from the side injury sustained at the IPL while Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini are also part of India’s Test squad. With so many options, Ponting feels India will have to answer more questions than the hosts.

“Shami, Jasprit Bumrah – will it be Ishant, will it be Umesh Yadav, will it be a young guy like Saini or Siraj? “They’ve got a lot of questions to ask as well. And which spinner? They’ve got a few spinners in their squad and they’ve got to figure out which one to pick for the pink-ball game in Adelaide,” Ponting said.

India made history by winning their first Test series on Australian soil in the 2018-19 series. However, the hosts were then without their star batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith, who were serving bans for their involvement in the 2018 ball-tampering incident.

“The one thing we haven’t spoken enough about is yes India were really good here last time, but with those guys (Smith and Warner) missing at the top of the order, that leaves a big gap in any team,” Ponting said.

(With PTI inputs)

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