Kohli likely to miss next two Tests, also doubtful for final game

PTI, Feb 8, 2024, 9:32 AM IST

PTI photo

India’s star batter Virat Kohli is likely to miss the third and fourth Tests against England due to personal reasons, which also kept him out of the first two matches of the series, a BCCI source said on Wednesday.

Chances of Kohli playing the final Test of the series in Dharamsala (from March 7-11) are also remote but the board isn’t looking that far ahead as that particular match is still a month away.

The third Test will be held in Rajkot from February 15-19, while the fourth game is in Ranchi from February 23-27.

On February 3, PTI had reported that there is no clarity on Kohli’s participation in the series and he will only be picked if he is in a position to play.

Recently Kohli’s close friend and former South African skipper AB de Villiers had revealed on his YouTube show that the Indian batting ace is missing in action due to the impending arrival of his second child.

“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.

The other big question has been Jasprit Bumrah’s workload management after the team’s bowling spearhead sent down 33 overs for a match-winning haul of nine wickets in the second Test.

It is understood that the third Test’s result could go a long way in deciding the course of the series which would make it difficult to rest Bumrah in the Rajkot game.

If he plays in Rajkot it is a foregone conclusion that he will not play the next game in Ranchi, which would start in three days’ time after the third Test.

Among the imminent comebacks, KL Rahul is likely to return to the playing eleven and Rajat Patidar will then have to sit out as Shreyas Iyer, after his tremendous work in the field including a superb run-out of Ben Stokes in Visakhapatnam, will get another go.

Ravindra Jadeja’s progress has been positive and his hamstring is healing well but it might not be good enough to allow him to get cracking on his home turf in Rajkot.

Mohammed Siraj will be back after being given workload-related rest in Visakhapatnam and Mukesh Kumar is more than hundred percent certain to get the axe from playing eleven.

If Bumrah isn’t rested, it will be interesting to see if head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma play two pacers along with three spinners or include a batting all-rounder like Washington Sundar, who has had scores of 85 not out and 96 not out in the previous home series against the same opposition.

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