Indian superstar Virat Kohli is reportedly still a doubt to return at all during the home series against England having missed the first two matches for personal reasons. Kohli was absent in England's breathtaking victory in Hyderabad in the first Test.
Jasprit Bumrah was the star in the second Test having ripped through the England line-up to level the series heading into matches in Rajkot and Ranchi this month. However, several Indian publications are reporting Kohli could still miss the next two Test matches due to personal reasons.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has made no official confirmation about the speculation surrounding the cricket icon, but Kohli could also be unavailable for next month's fifth and final Test in Dharamshala.
The move comes as his replacement Shreyas Iyer has struggled against the England attack. Iyer has failed to pass 35 in his four innings. This is in stark contrast to Kohli's record against the English.
Having scored more than 9,000 Test runs across his career, Kohli averages 56.38 against England on home soil. India has missed his presence in the middle order with England looking to end the host nation's formidable Test record at home.
Kevin Pietersen defends Virat Kohli's decision
While Kohli's absence has prompted speculation to when he will return, England great Kevin Pietersen admitted the batter is rightfully choosing family over the series. This comes as many fans have questioned Kohli's decision in recent weeks.
"Family is very important for Virat Kohli and he has achieved what he has achieved in the game. He is allowed time to spend with his family," Pietersen said during commentary in the second Test. "He is allowed the luxury of almost picking and choosing because of what he has done in the game." And while Kohi's further absence would be a blow for India, reports suggest selectors are also weighing-up resting Bumrah.
“Family is very important for Virat Kohli”
- Kevin Pietersen pic.twitter.com/JWWVJxZRKP
— Cricketopia (@CricketopiaCom) February 5, 2024
Jasprit Bumrah could rest for third Test
In Vizag, Bumrah was the difference having taken 9-91 across the two innings. Bumrah's haul also saw him become the first Indian fast-bowler to top the International Cricket Council's Test bowling rankings.
However, Indian selectors are reportedly concerned over his fitness having played the World Cup and now two gruelling matches against England since his return from back surgery last year. While there is a 10-day gap between the second and third Test, he has bowled 57.5 overs.
The thinking could be to rest the premier fast-bowler for the fourth and fifth Test matches. The decision would come as a blow to the host's who have not lost a Test series since any team since England triumphed having won the 2012 series under Alastair Cook. Before the current series, India has destroyed their opponents having only lost three of their last 44 matches at home.
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