Virat Kohli will not play in the first two matches of the five-match Test series with England starting from January 25. According to BCCI, Virat has withdrawn his name from these matches due to personal reasons. No one should have the slightest doubt about Kohli's dedication to Test cricket. Recently, during the South Africa tour, I was reporting on every practice session of the Indian team, but just before the first Test, Kohli was seen missing.
I was feeling again and again that how will the touring team, which is without experienced players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, handle itself if an experienced player like Kohli is suddenly not in the Test series. But, the team management knew that Kohli would not only play the Test series but was also sure that he would also score runs.
This also happened. Just before the Centurion Test, Kohli practiced only for one day but during the match the next day, he went to K.L. Team India's best batsman was seen with Rahul.
In fact, the kind of respect and space that coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma have given to Kohli in the last two years in the dressing room and outside it, the example of Sachin Tendulkar can be given in Indian cricket. Tendulkar also used to get similar respect during the captaincy era of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
However, compared to Tendulkar, it was not easy for Kohli to make a fresh start as a normal player after leaving the captaincy. All this happened easily for Tendulkar because he had given up the captaincy forever so that he could achieve perfection as a batsman.
Whereas Kohli had to leave the captaincy due to pressure in difficult circumstances. After that, it was not easy for him to become completely comfortable for the next one year. But, on every tour of the Indian team, it was seen how the Dravid-Rohit duo made Kohli feel like the king of the team again. The situation is that today Kohli has again regained his lost glory.
If at present any one player has given the most importance to the importance of Test cricket, then it is undoubtedly Virat Kohli. In Indian cricket, Kohli has taken a break from red ball cricket only on select occasions.
The absence of a player who had the experience of 113 matches, scored as many centuries (29) and almost 9000 runs as Don Bradman in the first two Test matches against England was a big relief for the opposing camp.
The team that defeated India in the last Test series played in India was England. This time, if this team has dreamed of defeating India again, then perhaps the absence of Kohli in the Indian dressing room in the first two matches can act as a tonic for them.
However, now the important question is that if Kohli does not play in the Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam Tests, then who can be the alternative to a player like him. Will the selectors go back to Pujara, who has played more than 100 Tests, and is, by all accounts, the best option in the short-term?
Pujara, who has scored more than twenty thousand first class runs, has been a great batsman on Indian pitches and perhaps he can compensate for Kohli's lack of experience to a great extent. But, critics may argue that if Rajat Patidar or Sarfaraz Khan are not given chances in this series, then when will they be tried?
Especially Sarfaraz, who is continuously showing stormy form from domestic cricket to A team tours. Abhimanyu Easwaran was given a place on the South Africa tour on the grounds that he was a regular with the A team and giving Sarfaraz his debut straight away on African soil might not have been the right move for a youngster.
However, it should be expected that Kohli will join Team India again from the Rajkot Test.
Kohli, who scored only one century in the first 19 innings against England, scored a lot of runs against England since the 2016 Visakhapatnam Test. But, coincidentally, again in the last 19 innings against England, Kohli has not played as per his reputation.
During this period, not even a single century came from Kohli's bat. In such a situation, the current series was considered very important for Kohli's Test career. Especially considering that the England team, led by coach Brendon McCullum, has been consistently playing cricket with an aggressive brand of attitude, better known as baseball. In this, the batting side of the team plays with more aggression.
Kohli may not bat with baseball-like aggression, but his fighting attitude and dominance always puts not only England but any team in the world in fear even before taking the field.
This will not happen in the first two matches of this series, but who knows, whoever gets the chance in these two Tests, may prove that India has no dearth of talented batsmen in red ball cricket as well as in white ball cricket.
Patidar has reportedly joined the Indian team in Hyderabad and also attended BCCI's Naman Awards in the city that will host the first Test beginning on Thursday. Patidar, who plays for Madhya Pradesh in the domestic circuit, is known to have a temperament for the long format and the experience of batting at the No. 4 positions.
He has struck good form since returning from an 8-month injury layoff and scored 151 against the England Lions in Ahmedabad last week. The 30-year-old right-handed batsman has already made his international debut, having played an ODI against South Africa last year as an opener.