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Langer expresses "respect" for Kohli for taking paternity leave
India Tour of Australia

Langer expresses "respect" for Kohli for taking paternity leave

Justin Langer has hailed Virat Kohli's decision to put family before cricket as he would be unavailable for three of India's four Tests against Australia due to paternity leave.

Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma are expecting their first child in January and he will return home following the series opener in Adelaide.

The 14-day quarantine period involved in heading back to Australia appears certain that Kohli will miss the last three red-ball games.

With Ajinkya Rahane set to captain India in Kohli's absence, the visitors are likely to be impacted by a lack of a batting behemoth in their top-order.

"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," Australia head coach Langer told reporters.

"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."

Kohli will be leading India during the white-ball leg of the tour and the first Test, a day-night contest, before departure.

"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 added.

Burns likely to open with Warner

Australia have named an enlarged 17-man Test squad for the highly-anticipated series with young prospects Will Pucovski and Cameron Green headlining the new faces in the settled unit.

Although the majority of Australia's playing XI seems to be locked in fixed roles, several pundits have rallied for the inclusion of Pucovski ahead of Joe Burns.

Pucovski has been in the midst of a dream run in the Sheffield Shield, having smacked two double centuries on the trot and could make his international debut in the forthcoming Test encounters.

"Pucovski's been amazing hasn't he, and that's what we're looking for. We want guys who are outside the team to bang so hard you can't ignore them," Langer stated. "And the fact is Will's been so good, we can't ignore him.

"That said, I've also been consistent with the messaging since last summer, the last time we played Test cricket, that we loved the combination of Joe Burns and David Warner.

"They have a real synergy, they work well together, have chemistry. So at this point, I'd say that will remain the same."

Addressing the current scenario of players returning from the Indian Premier League and undergoing quarantine in Australia, Langer admitted the situation was "challenging".

"They're all in really good spirits and can't wait to get the summer underway, they're all pumped," he said.

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