Virat Kohli’s much-anticipated comeback to the cricketing arena faces a further delay, with the former Indian skipper expected to remain absent from the upcoming Test matches against England. Kohli’s absence from the initial two Tests against England, citing personal reasons, left a void in the Indian squad. Despite his unavailability, Team India managed to level the series 1-1 with a triumphant victory over England in the Visakhapatnam encounter on Monday.
Kohli’s withdrawal from the first two Tests, declared on January 22, came just days before the commencement of the series opener in Hyderabad. Despite arriving in Hyderabad to join the Indian squad for the first Test, Kohli was subsequently released from the team. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) issued a statement urging privacy for the star cricketer during his brief hiatus.
Recent reports suggest that Kohli will extend his absence to the 3rd and 4th Tests against Ben Stokes’ England side. According to ESPNCricinfo, Kohli’s absence may extend to the Rajkot and Ranchi Tests as well. Consequently, India sought a batting replacement for Kohli, drafting Rajat Patidar into the squad for the first two matches.
The absence of Kohli, along with seasoned all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and former vice-captain KL Rahul, posed challenges for Rohit Sharma’s Team India in the 2nd Test against England.
A BCCI Offical said – “Virat Kohli will decide when he wants to make a comeback to the Team India. He hasn’t informed us till now but whenever he decides to play, he will be included in the team”. (Indian Express) pic.twitter.com/iHVxE4c5sz
— CricketMAN2 (@ImTanujSingh) February 8, 2024
Uncertainty looms over Kohli’s potential participation in the final Test of the bilateral series. The third Test, scheduled for February 15, will be held at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot, followed by the fourth Test in Ranchi. The series will culminate with the fifth and final match hosted at Dharamsala on March 7.
Meanwhile, the BCCI is closely monitoring the fitness of Indian duo Jadeja and Rahul at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore. Jadeja suffered a hamstring injury during the 1st Test against England, while Rahul reported discomfort in his right quadriceps after the series opener.
India has bolstered its Test squad with the addition of Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan, left-arm spinner Sourabh Kumar, and all-rounder Washington Sundar for the Vizag encounter. Additionally, Mohammed Siraj, rested in the previous game, is poised to make his return to the playing XI for the 3rd Test against England.