Harbhajan Singh has backed India to beat Australia and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy despite captain Virat Kohli missing three of the four Tests.
Kohli led India to a historic 2-1 victory over Australia in 2019 but will be absent for the majority of this winter’s tour as he is returning home to be at the birth of his first child.
India will have to make do without Kohli for the final three Tests of the series and legendary spinner Singh believes they can cope with his absence.
Australia, who boast some of the best players in the world in Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, currently hold the Ashes after drawing 2-2 with England in the summer of 2019.
Singh told India Today: ‘This team [India] has enough power to retain the trophy. They played brilliant cricket last time they were in Australia.
‘Virat Kohli was absolutely brilliant and so was Pujara. We hardly hear his name because he is always under the shadow of the big players but Pujara’s contribution was huge.
‘It’s going to be a big challenge without Virat Kohli, but I still feel the Indian team has got a strong batting line-up and also the bowling can get 20 wickets.
‘They have got the team to beat Australia in Australia even with David Warner and Steve Smith.
‘I would give the edge to India because they have the team to play in any condition, be it in Australia or England, they have the mindset.
‘Both teams haven’t played a lot of quality cricket because of the pandemic. But Indian cricketers are going there right after the IPL which will give them an edge over Australia.’
The first Test between Australia and India starts on December 17 in Brisbane.
Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, cannot see India retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy without Kohli.
He said earlier in the month: ‘One thing is for sure, it gives India so much less of a chance of winning over there. Kohli has an incredible record in Australia and the Aussies do fear him.
‘Pujara has a great record over there as well but Kohli can do things that not many players can.
‘You’d have to say that Australia now are the clear favourites to win that series because Virat Kohli is a superstar.’
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