India captain Virat Kohli will be on paternity break after the first Test and Rahane will be responsible for driving the ship for the remaining three matches of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
“Well, I saw him as captain in a Test against Australia (at Dharamsala in March, 2017) and found his leadership was exceptional. He was a really aggressive leader,” Chappell anchored PTI in a virtual interactive session, “Cricket Dialogues”, by senior cricket journalist Ashish Ray.
Chappell referred to Rahane’s leadership nuggets during that Australia Test, which caught his attention.
“I recall a couple of things about his captaincy. In Australia’s first innings, Warner went well and topped the Indian bowlers. He brought in Kuldeep Yadav (debutant) and he dismissed Warner.
“The second thing I remember is that India chased down a little bit and they lost a couple of wickets. Rahane just came in and attacked the Australian bowlers and scored 20 odd (38 off 27 balls). I liked that approach.”
“Look, as a captain, you always have two options – one offensive line and the other more conservative. I believe the offensive line is essential in Test cricket and Rahane is offensive.”
Although Chappell still believes Australia may have a slight edge in Test matches, the absence of a match-winner such as David Warner in Adelaide will benefit India.
“Everything that could go wrong in the opening is wrong. Warner is up and Joe Burns is struggling. Luke Pukowski after another concussion, I don’t think it’s good to play him in terms of confidence and medical aspect.
“I think Australians Joe Burns and Marcus Harris will go with the opening combination. I thought Cameron Green could play in Sydney but after a century in the practice match and a couple of wickets he picked, it might be tempting to look at the former Aussie captain who graced him in Adelaide.”
Chappell said that if Mitchell Starc was not available on the basis of compassion, James Pattinson was a quality fast runner who would take his place.
Chappell said, “But the top order is a big concern. It’s not just about the presence of Warner, but the way that those runs are scored can have a detrimental effect on the opposition. In their absence, the responsibility is now on Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.”
He wants to watch the elegant Kohli any day on “reckless” Smith, but he warned that if India cannot find a way to dismiss it, it will hurt the visitors.
So how does one bowl against Smith?
“You have to address him (Smith) by changing plans. If you bowl low, he’ll come back all day (and hit for fun). However, you also need to get him to play forward at some cost. But you still have a chance to get him out,” he said.
But Chappell certainly disliked the ‘Neil Wagner technique’, using the New Zealand batsman to pepper the bouncers.
“I believe that short-pitch stuff should be used in a fair way. It should be a surprise weapon. What New Zealand has done is a waste of energy. If you bowl a bouncer, make it count,” he said, citing Andy Roberts’ example.
“Andy was bowling a variety of bouncers and whenever I encountered him I had to do something about it.”
In the Indian side, there is no indication that Kohli’s early dismissal in Adelaide is vital for Australia.
However, he acknowledges that India will avoid Ishant Sharma’s height and the steep bounce he can produce on Australian tracks.
“I had a drink with Ravi (Shastri) the other day and he told me that maybe (Umesh) Yadav would be the third fastest.”
In fact, they think it’s good that India is launching a day / night game in Adelaide where there is some seam movement.
“India have two smart quicks in Jaspreet Bumrah and Mohammad Shami. If you ask me, if the team scores the first batting 300, you are on your way to winning a Test match in Adelaide.”