Kohli absence creates 'void and opportunity' says India legend Tendulkar

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Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli
AFP

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar said captain Virat Kohli's departure will leave a "void" for India in their Test tour of Australia, but added that it will hand a golden opportunity to a younger player.

In an interview with AFP, the record-setting batsmen said India's bench strength would help as they bid to win a second straight Test series in Australia.

Kohli will only lead the side in the first of the four Tests -- starting in Adelaide on December 17 -- before returning home for the birth of his first child.

There have also been calls from some veterans for India's skipper in all three formats to hand over some of his captaincy duties permanently.

Tendulkar would not, however, join that debate, saying instead: "Let's understand, this is not about individuals. It is about our team and the best part about Indian cricket right now is there is bench strength."

Still, he admitted Kohli would be missed.

"When you lose an experienced player like this there is without any doubt a void," the former India captain said.

"Some youngster is going to get a chance to play in his spot and that's an opportunity for someone else."

India could have other batting problems as senior batsman Rohit Sharma is racing to recover from a hamstring injury in time to join the Test team.

He is to undergo a fitness test on Friday, and Tendulkar said the presence of such an influential player is crucial.

"If he meets all the parameters; if he is fit then he should be there," said Tendulkar.

"Rohit is a special player and an experienced player. When a senior cricketer comes back in the team, it does have an impact."

India have made a mixed start to the tour, losing the one-day series 2-1, before reversing the result in the Twenty20 matches.

Kohli's men, who enjoyed a historic first Test series win in Australia in 2018-19, know this series will be a tough proposition.

Australia are just ahead of India in the world rankings and the Adelaide game will be the visitors' first day-night five-day game on foreign soil.

Tendulkar, 47, said the current Australian side is a lot "stronger" with leading batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith back from the ball-tampering suspensions that kept them out two years ago.

"This is a far better squad compared to the earlier one. When a couple of your senior members are not there, suddenly that void is felt and that is what Australia felt."

But he insisted that India's bowling attack -- led by the fiery Jasprit Bumrah and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin -- is also stronger, and can challenge Australia.

"Every era should be kept separate, I don't like comparing," he said when asked if this was the strongest attack India has produced.

"But I can say that it is a complete bowling attack. So it doesn't matter what kind of surface you are playing on, you have got all sides covered.

"You have got bowlers who can swing the ball. When it comes to variations and awkwardness, that is also there.

"Someone hitting the deck hard is also there. We have got a wrist spinner, we have got finger spinners."

Tendulkar, a right-hand batting maestro, made his debut for India aged just 16 in 1989 and set a swathe of batting records before retiring in 2013.

He scored 15,921 runs from 200 Tests and 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs, hitting 100 centuries across both formats.

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