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Virat Kohli to skip first two Tests against England

"Certain personal situations demand his presence and undivided attention," BCCI says of Kohli; replacement to be named soon

Virat Kohli has pulled out of India’s first two Tests against England for personal reasons, the BCCI said, adding that a replacement for Kohli would be named soon.

“Virat has spoken to captain Rohit Sharma, the team management and the selectors and has emphasized that while representing the country has always been his top priority, certain personal situations demand his presence and undivided attention,” the board said in a statement.

Kohli reached Hyderabad, the venue of the first of five Tests, on Sunday, but did not attend India’s optional training session on Monday.

Kohli played India’s last Test series – the 1-1 draw in South Africa – and then missed the first T20I at home against Afghanistan for personal reasons before returning for the last two matches of the series.

While Kohli was rested for the white-ball games in South Africa, he had returned to India and missed the preparatory three-day intra-squad match ahead of the two Tests there.

The BCCI is yet to name a replacement, but the frontrunners include Cheteshwar Pujara, Rajat Patidar, Abhimanyu Easwaran and Sarfaraz Khan.

Pujara last played for India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final last year, but started this year’s Ranji Trophy with an unbeaten double-century against Jharkhand before hitting three scores in the 40s and a half-century in his next two games.

Patidar and Sarfaraz both played and impressed for India A against the touring England Lions. Patidar blazed centuries in both the tour game against them and the first unofficial Test, while Sarfaraz scored half-centuries in both games, including 96 in the tour game.

Abhimanyu had replaced the injured Ruturaj Gaikwad as India’s reserve opener for the Tests in South Africa and is currently captaining India A.

Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill are the other middle-order batters in India’s squad, while KL Rahul is also available to play as a pure batter if needed – Rahul, KS Bharat and Dhruv Jurel are the contenders for the wicketkeeper’s spot.

Kohli became the second player in as many days to opt out of part or all of the series, after Harry Brook withdrew from the entire tour on Sunday, also because of personal reasons. It is, however, understood that he can rejoin the England touring party on a later date.

The five-match series against England will begin in Hyderabad on January 25 and will be part of the WTC. India are currently second on the WTC points table, behind defending champions Australia.

 

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