Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Saturday said India will have to bat out of their skins in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli to post a dominating total in reply to Australia's 300 in the first innings of the fourth Test at Dharamsala. Australia posted a competitive total in the first innings riding on skipper Steve Smith's 111 and half centuries from opener David Warner and wicket keeper-batsman Mathew Wade. In reply, Indian openers Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul batted for an over before close of play on the opening day.
"India will have to bat well. They are playing with five batsmen. And without Kohli, the others have to step up," Ganguly told reporters in Kolkata.
India's star performer on the day was left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who returned 4/68 on debut taking the wickets of David Warner, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins.
"Kuldeep bowled really well. It's all about his release of the ball. Like any right arm leg-spinner, it's important to observe him while he is releasing the ball," Ganguly said of the 22-year-old Kanpur tweaker.
"The Test is still wide open and any team can win," Ganguly added.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vice-captain Surya Kumar Yadav hailed Kuldeep's performance saying it will surely help the men in purple in the Indian Premier League (IPL), starting April 5.
"I was watching the match since morning. Kuldeep was brilliant, and his performance augurs well for us in the IPL," the Mumbai batsman said.
The Knights practiced for a short while at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.
Besides Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Sanjay Yadav, Sheldon Jackson, and local boy Sayan Ghosh sweated it out for around for an hour. Opener Robin Uthappa and big hitter Yusuf Pathan will join the practice camp on Sunday.
(With inputs from IANS)