India and Australia are slated to square off against each other in three ODIs, three T20Is, and four Tests. Meanwhile, Indian captain Virat Kohli will only be playing the limited-overs series and the first Test match, and will head back home after being granted paternity leave by the BCCI.
According to many experts, Virat Kohli's absence will certainly be a big blow for the Indian side. However, former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar believes India does have the ability to win the Test series without Kohli, only if the middle-order fires. "In my opinion, India has the ability to win again. But if their middle order doesn't perform, I see them struggling. People will be watching this series with great interest including myself," Akhtar told news agency PTI.
Akhtar said that the first Test match at Adelaide will be their toughest. This will the first day-night match between the two teams and will be played with the pink ball. "The day-night Test will be their toughest test. If India play well in those conditions, then you never know. The first two innings of the first Test will tell us where the series is headed." Akhtar said.
The former speedster also believes that India have all bases covered in the bowling department. In the batting department, he sees KL Rahul replacing Kohli at number four in the last three Tests.
Meanwhile, in the absence of Kohli, Akhtar thinks Rohit Sharma should lead the side. "Rohit is one of the greatest batsmen India has produced. Now he also understands the real value of his talent. Australia will be his best chance to prove himself as captain. He should grab it with both hands. He has the talent and ability to lead the team. It will be a tough test for India and I would look for these kind of situations as a player," he said.