India's Tour of Australia is set to commence on Friday with the first of the three-match ODI series at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Both teams are filled to the brim with world-class players, however, the Men in Blue will be without star opener Rohit Sharma, who is still rehabilitating from a hamstring injury.
However, Sunil Gavaskar, the former-cricketer-turned-pundit, has backed top-order batsmen KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer to fill the attacking impetus that India will miss in Sharma's absence. “The problem, generally, is when the top three fail to get going,” said Gavaskar in an interview Sportstar. “Though Rohit is absent for the T20Is and the ODIs, in K. L. Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, India now has two batsmen capable of taking the attack to the opposition.”
Rahul, who will open alongside Shikhar Dhawan in the ODI as well as T20I series, is coming off a stellar Indian T20 League season, where he scored 670 runs in 14 matches and won the Orange Cap. He will be tasked with replicating Sharma's impact at the top of the order.
Shreyas Iyer, too, had a brilliant season in the Indian T20 League in Dubai, finishing fourth in the race for the Orange Cap with 517 runs in 17 matches.
Sharma has a stellar record in Australia in ODIs, having scored 990 runs in 19 matches at an average of 58.24 and a strike rate of 90.99, while neither Rahul nor Iyer has played in limited-overs internationals Down Under. The duo will have their work cut out dealing with a full-strength Australian pace attack that will be led by Mitchell Starc and supported by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
However, Gavaskar believes the duo is ready to fill the void left by Sharma's absence.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ravi Raveendran, David Rowland