AUS v IND 2020-21: Rohit's absence a "positive" for Australia but KL Rahul a strong back-up, says Maxwell 

Rahul has been named India's limited-overs vice-captain in Rohit Sharma's absence for Australia tour.

KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma | GettyLooking ahead to the home limited-overs series versus India, Australian batsman Glenn Maxwell said opposition vice-captain Rohit Sharma's absence is definitely a "positive" for the hosts but they must retain their guard as KL Rahul is a capable player to fill that void. 

Rahul, now India's first-choice wicketkeeper batsman in ODIs and T20Is, has been named regular skipper Virat Kohli's deputy in place of Rohit, who is recuperating from a hamstring injury before the Test match leg of the tour. 

Read Also: "Rishabh Pant needs to perform in Australia to cement his place", says Harbhajan Singh

"He (Rohit) is a class performer, so consistent as an opening batsman with a couple of (three) double hundreds. So anytime he is not in the line-up against you, it is a positive," said Maxwell during an interaction organised by series' official Indian broadcaster, Sony.

"But in saying that, India have still got back-ups, more than capable of playing that role. We saw KL Rahul, the performance that he put on during the last IPL was extraordinary. Whether he opens the batting or not, I am sure he will be just as good a player," he added. 

Rahul, however, is unlikely to open in ODIs, a job he is set to do in T20Is, with Mayank Agarwal considered the likely partner for Shikhar Dhawan in the 50-over version. The 28-year-old will be batting in the middle-order while also donning the gloves behind the stumps. 

Maxwell, though, is a huge admirer of the Rahul-Agarwal combo at the top, having seen them perform consistently for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the IPL. 

"Well, I would say they (Mayank-Rahul) are the two lovely guys, I have ever met. It was a pleasure to spend the change room (with them), two very good players, they score all-round the wicket and have got very limited weaknesses," he said. 

But Maxwell backed the Australian attack to a find a way past his IPL teammates in home conditions. 

"I suppose ODI cricket might be a bit different (compared T20)," he said. "Hopefully, with our bowling attack, we can put some pressure on them and with bounce in the pitches and bigger grounds as well, they play into our hands. They are good performers, and good players."

Another of his KXIP teammates that Maxwell thinks the Australians must watch out for is experienced pacer Mohammad Shami. 

"A guy like Mohammed Shami, whom I have played with in the recent IPL and played with him in Delhi, as well. (I) saw the skill that he has."

"He has got good skills at the end (death overs) as well as with the new ball. His ability to get moving on pitches will be key to them."

Maxwell also played down suggestions that his disappointing form in the IPL 2020 will have an effect on this series, saying it's a fresh start while he also returns to the Australian set-up where he relishes shouldering the late-order burden with Marcus Stoinis.

"No, it's (his IPL form) not going to affect my performances in the upcoming series," Maxwell stressed. "The way we are probably going to set our team up is myself and Marcus Stoinis or potentially another all-rounder making up for the other 10 overs (for fifth bowler), the one without our four front-line bowlers."

"I suppose I can contribute wherever I can with the ball. With the bat, as it was against England, I will be trying to finish off games and do as well as I can down the order," he added. 

Steve Smith couldn't play the important ICC ODI Super League fixtures versus England due to concussion scare but Maxwell said his return will definitely boost Australia's chances as they strive for some more crucial points versus India. 

"To have someone like Steve Smith coming back to our side, it is going to be a big plus for us, a big headache for India. Smith has always scored runs against them," he signed off. 

The first ODI of the three-match series will be held in Sydney on November 27. 

(Inputs from PTI)


By Kashish Chadha - 20 Nov, 2020

    Share Via