Former Australia captain Michael Clarke said Virat Kohli’s absence in the last 3 Tests of the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy is going to be a huge loss for India, considering his impact as a batsman and the captain. Clarke, however, said India have the ability to step up and deliver in the absence of their superstar.

Michael Clarke, speaking to Consulting Editor, Sports, India Today, Boria Majumdar in the latest episode of Inspiration, said he would have backed Rohit Sharma to lead the Test side in the absence of Virat Kohli. Clarke said he would have done everything in his powers to get Rohit fit for the Test series if he were picking the Indian side.

Virat Kohli is all set to return to India after the first Test to be with his wife and Bollywood actor, Anushka Sharma for the birth of their child. The Test series gets underway on December 17 with a day-night fixture in Adelaide.

While vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is all set to lead India in the Test series after Kohli’s departure, Rohit Sharma is unlikely to feature in the first 2 Tests. While Kohli rued the confusion surrounding Rohit’s injury earlier this week, the BCCI cleared the air, saying Rohit’s fitness will be assessed on December 11 before taking a final call.

“If I was picking the Indian team before they came to Australia and knew that Virat was going to go home after the first Test, I would have picked Rohit Sharma. 100 percent. Because I think he needs to captain India if Virat Kohli is not there,” Michael Clarke said.

“His captaincy and leadership is outstanding. Once again, he showed that during the IPL and another IPL win, he knows how to lead men. I think he should be captain of India in any format if Virat Kohli is not there.

“That being the case, I would have done everything in powers to get Rohit Sharma fit and have him bat at No. 6. Once Virat goes, he takes over the leadership.”

‘Ajinkya Rahane is a tactically brilliant captain’

Meanwhile, Michael Clarke pointed out that Ajinkya Rahane is tactically brilliant and India need to believe they can compete and beat Australia even without Virat Kohli in the Test series.

“I love Jinx (Rahane) too. He is a great player. His captaincy is pretty good. Tactically, he is a very good captain and it’s going to be good for India. You have got to see it as an opportunity. You have got to try and create history. If India can beat Australia at Australia’s own backyard without Virat Kohli, you can celebrate for a year. That will be an unbelievable win. I think that’s the way Indian players have to look at it. They have to believe they are good enough to take on and beat this Australian team.”

Clarke said KL Rahul is a good candidate to bat at No. 4 after Virat Kohli leaves to India but pointed out that filling Kohli’s shoes in Australian conditions is going to be difficult.

“There are probably two sides to Virat, one is the captaincy part and the other is the batting part. Who is going to bat in place of Virat. KL Rahul is very talented, there is no doubt about it. I think he is experienced, playing in these conditions before. He can do it.

“But Virat Kohli’s boots can never be filled by anybody.”

India have begun their tour of Australia on the backfoot as they were handed a 66-run thrashing by Australia in the ODI series opener Sydney. They will be looking to stop Australia from taking an unbeatable lead in the 2nd ODI on Sunday.