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Rohit Sharma also expressed his confidence in the bench strength of the side © AFP (File Photo)

India are set to take on world champions Australia in the first of the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. Ahead of the important clash, Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma has said that the team would certainly feel the absence of Shikhar Dhawan in the side, who has been ruled out for the first three ODIs, owing to the illness of his wife. As for his replacement, Rohit hinted that it could well be Ajinkya Rahane, who could take his spot. Rohit also expressed his confidence in the bench strength of the side, while he also expressed his confidence on Rahane. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia 2017, 1st ODI at Chennai

“We have great bench strength. Of course, the absence of Shikhar will be felt. The kind of form he was in of late, he had a big role to play in the team’s recent achievements. Right from the Champions Trophy till the last tour of Sri Lanka, he has had impactful performances for the team. But, we have got a few guys to replace him. Ajinkya Rahane is one of them. He had a great run in the West Indies and won the Man of the Series award. He can come and take up that role any time. We have got guys who can take on the role and perform well,” said Rohit, as reported by PTI.

“The partner doesn’t matter, to be honest. It’s what the conditions have to offer, what sort of pitch you are playing in. At the end of the day you have to give your team a good start. If I see someone struggling at the other end, I will have to take up the role and if they see I’m struggling, they’ll take up that role. That’s the planning we have in our set up,” he added. Rohit: Cricketers cannot come up with excuses of burnout, tight match schedule

Speaking on KL Rahul and his performance of late, he said, “I think both the coach and captain have clearly spoken about roles each individual had to play. Before the start of Sri Lanka tour, the captain said he is looking at KL [Rahul] as a No.4 batsman. Ajinkya [Rahane] opened in the West Indies. I guess that could be the option. Having said that, when you have this kind of versatility in the team, it gives the captain and coach a little bit of relief that these guys can take up any position they are offered.”

He also spoke on the batting position of the players. “You will have to play according to the team dynamics, whatever the team requires. That’s how I became an opener because the team wanted me to open at that point,” he said. Speaking on his good performance of late, he said, “I want to have the same kind of performance against all the opposition I play. Somehow I have really managed well against these guys. Australia are a very strong opposition and it makes me feel good.”India vs Australia: Rohit Sharma says preparing for conditions than opposition

On being asked about the controversies involved between the sides everytime they play, he said, “I mean we have to see once the tournament starts. We have to play in the spirit of the game. Both teams are aggressive in nature. Spirit of the game always needs to be there and there has to be a line which needs to be drawn. We all know as professional cricketers we shouldn’t cross limits. A lot of these guys play enough cricket to understand that. But we all want to play aggressive cricket and come at each other very hard.”

Speaking about the mystery spinners in the side in the form of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, he said, “I kind of look at them as mystery spinners. You never know what’s coming out of their hand. The captain is comfortable and quite happy to get them into the fray. They can get crucial breakthroughs we look forward to in the middle part of the game. That is what happened in Sri Lanka. Someone like Chahal, who got an opportunity in the first game — their openers were going well and he got us a breakthrough. Again Kuldeep did it in the West Indies when he played. Even when we are facing them in the nets, we don’t know what is going to come.”

He also concluded by speaking on his role as the vice captain. “It was happening before as well. The average age of the team is about 26-27 and we have all played together. There was never a thing where Virat as a captain has not gone to anyone and spoken about it. Whether someone has come new into the team, he wouldn’t mind going up to him and seeking his advice. It’s official that I am the vice-captain, so I have to be around and complement him. The other guys in the team will always be backing him whenever he required,” he concluded.