Melbourne: Australia head coach Justin Langer has hailed India captain Virat Kohli for taking paternity leave during the tour Down Under but conceded that his absence will definitely affect the visitors during the much-anticipated Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Kohli will return home after the opening Test, which ends on December 21. He has been granted paternity leave by the BCCI to be with his actor wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child in early January.
Langer said he respects Kohli for putting family ahead of cricket.
“Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields,” Langer told reporters by video conference on Friday.
“I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision (to return for the birth).”
“He’s a human being like all of us… if I was giving advice to any of my players I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do,” the former Australia opener added.
Kohli will miss the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne (December 26-30), New Year’s Test in Sydney (January 7-11) and the final game at the Gabba (January 15-19).
Langer said Kohli’s absence will definitely impact India but they cannot afford to lower their guard.
“Of course it will have an impact (his absence), but we also know that India beat us last time (in 2018-19). They’re a very, very good team, we cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat,” Langer said.
India’s tour of Australia begins with three ODIs, followed by as many T20 Internationals and four Tests. While the first ODI will be held on November 27, the opening Tests is scheduled on December 17 in Adelaide.