'His role as an opener will be equally crucial. He is the guy you want to play in Australia. I remember ODI series in 2008 and he was new but did quite well on Australian pitches. He will be raring to go after the injury.'
Ajinkya Rahane remains vice-captain in India's revised squad for the Australia Tests but Irfan Pathan feels a much more experienced Rohit Sharma has to lead the side in Virat Kohli's absence following the series opener.
Kohli has been granted paternity leave after the first Test and Pathan said it is bound to have a huge impact on the team, which won a historic series under his captaincy two seasons ago.
"Virat Kohli not being there will have a huge impact on the team but you have to respect his decision. We have to accept and appreciate life beyond cricket, family is very important," Pathan told PTI.
"On the field it is bound to make a massive difference and it is very tough for anyone to fill his shoes. The way he has performed over the years and in all conditions."
Pathan reckons, Rohit has to captain in Kohli's absence though Rahane has been the designated deputy for a while.
Rohit has led Mumbai Indians to multiple IPL titles and won two major trophies for India in Nidahas Trophy and Asia Cup.
"Nothing against Rahane but Rohit has to captain. He is a proven leader and has the required experience.
"His role as an opener will be equally crucial. He is the guy you want to play in Australia. I remember ODI series in 2008 and he was new but did quite well on Australian pitches. He will be raring to go after the injury.
"There is nothing more dangerous for the opposition than a hungry Rohit Sharma. Playing abroad is always a tough challenge but when Rohit is in form conditions don't matter.
"As an opener, he can play the same role that Sehwag did in the 2004 series and can win you games. Pujara's role becomes even more important at number three as he will be the glue holding everyone together and see off the new ball. Rahane will be my number four in Kohli's absence," said the former left-arm pacer.
Pujara was the man of the series in the last series in Australia.
Rohit's return to the Test team was much needed but Kohli's absence will be a big boost to Aussie team's morale.
"Virat not being there will make Australians feel a lot more comfortable but we have got a great bowling line up and if our batsmen can do the job, it will be an interesting series.
"I still feel we have a good team but Virat will be missed. They have one of the best pact attacks and don't forget Smith and Warner are back. I would like to predict the outcome of the series after the warm-up game," Pathan added.