'Indian players do tend to raise their game when he is not around.'
India need not lose sleep over Virat Kohli's absence in the last three Tests against Australia but Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara will have to shoulder extra responsibilities, batting great Sunil Gavaskar said.
Regular skipper and batting mainstay Kohli will return home after the opening Test in Adelaide next month to attend the birth of his first child with deputy Rahane set to lead in the remaining three matches.
"Indian players do tend to raise their game when he is not around," former India captain Gavaskar told the Times of India newspaper, citing some of India's victories in Kohli's absence.
"They understand they have to make up for his absence."
"It's going to be tough for Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. Both these players have to bat out of their skin."
Rahane has occasionally led India and would enjoy the responsibility, Gavaskar said.
Pujara was adjudged man-of-the-series when India beat Australia 2-1 in 2018-19, becoming the first Asian side to triumph in a Test series Down Under.
Known for his impeccable temperament, Pujara prefers to grind down attacks with his compact defence and Gavaskar said the top order batsman should be allowed to play his natural game.
"That's what got him here. You don't tamper with a player's natural aptitude or temperament," said Gavaskar, who was the first batsman to score 10,000 test runs.
"...nobody should be telling Pujara how to get runs as long as he is getting the runs and the hundreds.
"If he is let alone and no pressure is put on him, that's going to work in India's favour. He is so rock steady, the others can score around him and play shots."