India’s star batter Virat Kohli will not be available for the first two Tests of the five-match series against England starting on January 25 in Hyderabad, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Monday.
The BCCI said that Kohli had informed captain Rohit Sharma, the team management and the selectors about his personal situation that required his presence and undivided attention. Kohli had also missed the first T20I against Afghanistan at home for the same reason, after playing the Test series in South Africa that ended in a 1-1 draw.
The board added that a replacement for Virat Kohli would be named soon, with several contenders in the fray. Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored an unbeaten double-hundred in the Ranji Trophy recently, is the most experienced option, while Rajat Patidar and Sarfaraz Khan have impressed for India A against the England Lions. Abhimanyu Easwaran, who is leading India A and was the reserve opener in South Africa, is another possibility.
India have other options in the middle order as well, with Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill in the squad. KL Rahul can also play as a specialist batter if needed, while KS Bharat and Dhruv Jurel are the wicketkeeping candidates.
Kohli is the second player to pull out of the series in two days, after England’s Harry Brook withdrew from the tour on Sunday due to personal reasons. However, Brook can rejoin the squad later if he wishes.
The series against England is part of the World Test Championship (WTC), where India are currently second behind Australia. The hosts will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record at home and challenge for the WTC title.
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