‘Rohit’s absence big positive for Aus but Rahul a strong back-up’

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Mumbai: Rohit Sharma’s absence from the upcoming white ball series is a big “positive” for Australia but KL Rahul is as good a player to fill in the void, feels dashing batsman Glenn Maxwell.

Rahul will be Virat Kohli’s deputy in the white-ball leg since regular vice-captain Rohit is recuperating from a hamstring injury sustained during IPL.

“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,” Maxwell said during an interaction organised by series official broadcasters Sony.

The three-match ODI series begins on November 27 followed by a T20 International series.

For Maxwell, KL Rahul is as good a back-up as any team can wish for.

“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,” Maxwell said during a virtual media interaction.

In Rohit’s absence, it is expected that Mayank Agarwal will open the innings along with Shikhar Dhawan as Rahul, who will keep wickets is expected to bat in the middle-order.

However Maxwell is a big fan of Agarwal-Rahul opening pair that did really well during the first phase of 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,” Maxwell was all praise for them.

But Maxwell sounded out a warning for his IPL teammates that Australia’s bowing attack will certainly put them under pressure.

“I suppose ODI cricket might be a bit different (compared T20). 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,” a confident Maxwell asserted.

For India, key in the upcoming series will be Mohammed Shami’s skills as both a “new ball and old ball” bowler.

“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,” said Maxwell.

Meanwhile, asked about his wretched IPL form and whether it would have an impact on the series, he said, “No, it’s not going to affect my performances in the upcoming series.”

According to Maxwell, he along with another in-form player Marcus Stoinis, would be the two all-rounders as well as designated finishers in the batting line-up.

“…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 said.

Steve Smith didn’t play the away ODI series against England due to concussion suffered during a net session and his presence is sure to increase Indian team’s headache, said the Victorian all-rounder.

“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 said.

The series will be aired on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Six channels from November 27, 8 am onwards.