Kohli out of series, recovering Rahul drafted in squad

It’s the first time that Kohli will not feature in a multi-match Test series since making his debut in 2011.
Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli.(File Photo | AP)

CHENNAI: Virat Kohli will not feature for the duration of the India - England Test series. This was the main piece of selection news as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the 17-man squad for the remaining three Tests of the series. “Virat Kohli will remain unavailable for selection for the remainder of the series due to personal reasons,” a BCCI press release stated while announcing the team. “The Board fully respects and supports Mr. Kohli’s decision.” It’s the first time that Kohli will not feature in a multi-match Test series since making his debut in 2011.

As expected, both KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, players who missed the second Test at Visakhapatnam with niggles, could be in line for an immediately recall at Rajkot. However, they will have to be cleared by the BCCI medical team. If Rahul is cleared, he is expected to replace Shreyas Iyer in the XI. Shreyas, considered as one of the better batters of spin in the line-up, has been left out. If Rahul is not cleared and the hosts want to stick to the same combination, Sarfaraz Khan could make his debut in Rajkot.

Banking on young guns

Shubman Gill, another batter who was feeling the pressure in Vizag, had come up with a match-winning contribution. So, he retains his place and will likely come in at No. 3. An immediate area of concern for the team will be a very greenhorn looking middle-order, especially if Rahul does not pull through.In such a scenario, both Rajat Patidar — the debutant from Vizag — and Sarfaraz may well feature in the XI.

The squad the BCCI has named is further evidence of them looking to move away from the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara (a name they may well revisit in the days to come) and Ajinkya Rahane. While Rahane’s struggles have extended to the Ranji Trophy, Pujara is flourishing for Saurashtra. He began this year with an unbeaten 243 in Rajkot — venue for the third Test — in January before a 91 to close out January. While he was dismissed without opening the scoring against Maharashtra, he made a 100 against Rajasthan a few days ago.

Pacer Siraj returns

In terms of the bowlers, Mohammed Siraj, rested for the second game, is back in. While there are no asterix next to Jasprit Bumrah’s name, it won’t be a surprise if he’s rested for either the fourth or the fifth Tests. The management is conscious of his workload management and they will be mindful of the upcoming assignments which include a T20 World Cup in under four months.

One pacer who will remain unavailable is Mohammed Shami. The pacer, who set the pulses racing during last year’s World Cup, picked up an ankle injury late last year. In terms of new faces, Bengal’s Akash Deep, who possesses a first-class average of 23.18 across 29 games, has been included at the expense of Avesh Khan.

Squad for the final three Tests

Rohit Sharma (c), Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul*, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (wk), KS Bharat (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja*, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep

* Subject to fitness clearance from BCCI medical team

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