Star India batter Virat Kohli's extended absence from the England series has been confirmed. Indications suggest he will miss the third and fourth Tests in Rajkot and Ranchi, respectively. Reports also cast doubt on Kohli's availability for the fifth Test in Dharamsala, beginning March 6, a crucial factor the selectors will weigh when assembling the squad for the final three Tests.
Kohli's withdrawal was initially communicated on January 22, just days before the series commenced, citing "personal reasons." The Board has offered no additional insights since then, reiterating Kohli's prioritisation of representing the country while respecting his need for undivided attention to personal matters.
In terms of squad dynamics, Mohammed Siraj is poised for a return after a precautionary rest. The fitness status of KL Rahul, nursing a quad strain, and Ravindra Jadeja, recovering from a hamstring injury, is monitored at the NCA in Bangalore. The final verdict is pending, but prospects appear positive, instilling optimism about their potential availability for the third test in a week.
India is set to announce a squad in the next few days
Rahul and Jadeja, standout performers in the first Test, may enhance India's middle order, assuming fitness clearance. While Rahul filled the void left by Kohli at No. 4, his return promises added depth to the batting lineup. Siraj, confirmed for the Rajkot Test, adds bowling strength, offering respite for the fast bowler who was rested in the second Test due to workload considerations.
Jasprit Bumrah's spectacular performance anchored India's victory in the second Test, marking a comeback from a back injury. The management will cautiously manage his workload, yet he is likely to feature in the upcoming Rajkot Test.
Following a comeback win in Vizag, India aims to seize control in the five-test series, bouncing back from an unusual home defeat in the first Test. With the next two Tests scheduled consecutively before the final clash in Dharamsala, commencing on March 8, India faces a critical phase in the series.