Former Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli has returned home from South Africa due to personal reasons but is likely to rejoin the Test squad ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Centurion. Virat Kohli’s absence was notable during the Indians’ three-day intra-squad match, which served as the team’s only red-ball outing before the upcoming two-Test series.
In other team developments, Ruturaj Gaikwad has been ruled out of the two-Test series due to a finger injury. Abhimanyu Easwaran, currently part of the India A squad touring South Africa, has been considered as Gaikwad’s replacement. It is expected that Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal will continue their opening partnership, a role they previously fulfilled during India’s Test assignment in the Caribbean in July-August.
Abhimanyu showcased his form with an unbeaten 61 in the practice game in Pretoria before being retired by the team management. He is anticipated to feature for India A in their upcoming match against South Africa A before joining the national squad ahead of the New Year’s Test in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, Gaikwad is set to return to the BCCI’s National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for further treatment. His injury occurred during the second ODI against South Africa in Gqeberha. India handed a debut to Rajat Patidar in the final ODI in Paarl, which India won, in Gaikwad’s absence.
India’s Test squad, under the coaching staff led by Rahul Dravid, has been preparing in Pretoria for the past four days. KL Rahul, stand-in ODI captain, and Mukesh Kumar are expected to join the Test squad after a day’s rest following the ODI series. Shreyas Iyer, who was part of the ODI mix, has been released from the squad after the first ODI to prepare for the Tests.
Both Iyer and Rahul are set to make their return to Test cricket after a significant hiatus. Rahul last played for India during the Border-Gavaskar series against Australia in February, while Iyer has been primarily involved in ODI cricket since his comeback from back surgery earlier this year.
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