India vs England: Virat Kohli likely to miss next two Tests; also doubtful for final game - Report
The third India vs England Test is slated for Rajkot from February 15-19, while the fourth game will take place in Ranchi from February 23-27. The selectors are anticipated to unveil the squad for the remaining three Tests within the week.
India's star batsman, Virat Kohli, is expected to be absent from the upcoming third and fourth Tests against England due to personal reasons, as reported by PTI on Wednesday. Kohli's unavailability for the initial two matches of the series extends concerns over his participation. The likelihood of Kohli featuring in the final Test in Dharamsala (scheduled from March 7-11) is slim, although the board reportedly isn't currently focusing on that aspect, given the match is still a month away.
The third Test is slated for Rajkot from February 15-19, while the fourth game will take place in Ranchi from February 23-27. The selectors are anticipated to unveil the squad for the remaining three Tests within the week.
"The BCCI has time and again made it clear that when it comes to family matters, it stands firmly behind the cricketer and it will be Virat's call when he is ready to make a comeback. As of now, it looks unlikely that he will play in the series," a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Virat Kohli's decision to withdraw from the Tests is attributed to the imminent arrival of his second child, as disclosed by his close friend and former Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate AB de Villiers on his YouTube channel.
De Villiers emphasized that Kohli has made the right choice by prioritizing this significant family event and taking a break from cricket.
"Yes, his second child is on the way. It's family time and things are important to him. If you are not true and genuine to yourself, you lose track of what you are here for. I think most people's priority is family. You can't judge Virat for that. Yes, we miss him. But he has made absolutely the right decision," said De Villiers.
Another significant concern revolves around Jasprit Bumrah's workload management following his remarkable performance in the second Test, where he bowled 33 overs and claimed nine wickets, leading the team to victory.
The outcome of the third Test is perceived to have a substantial impact on the series, making it challenging to consider resting Bumrah for the Rajkot fixture. If he participates in Rajkot, it is inevitable that he will be sidelined for the subsequent game in Ranchi, which begins just three days after the conclusion of the third Test.
KL Rahul is expected to make a comeback to the playing eleven, potentially displacing Rajat Patidar. Shreyas Iyer, who showcased exceptional fielding skills including a brilliant run-out of Ben Stokes in Visakhapatnam, is likely to retain his spot.
While Ravindra Jadeja's recovery from a hamstring injury is progressing well, it might not be sufficient for him to participate in the match on his home ground in Rajkot.
Mohammed Siraj, who was rested in Visakhapatnam due to workload concerns, is set to return. Mukesh Kumar is highly likely to be excluded from the playing eleven.
If Bumrah remains in the lineup, it will be intriguing to observe whether head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma opt for two pacers alongside three spinners or consider including a batting all-rounder like Washington Sundar. Sundar has notably achieved scores of 85 not out and 96 not out in the previous home series against the same opposition.