(Image source from: Twitter.com/BCCI)
Virat Kohli will not be participating in the first two Tests against England due to personal matters, as confirmed by the BCCI on Monday. The selectors are currently in the process of selecting a replacement player. According to the BCCI's media release, Kohli has discussed his decision with Captain Rohit Sharma, the team management, and the selectors. He has expressed that while representing his country is always his top priority, certain personal situations require his presence and undivided attention.
The BCCI fully respects Kohli's choice, and both the Board and the team management have offered their support to the star batsman. They are confident in the abilities of the remaining squad members to step up and deliver commendable performances in the upcoming Test series. During this time, the BCCI has requested the media and fans to respect Kohli's privacy and refrain from speculating on the nature of his personal reasons. The focus should remain on supporting the Indian cricket team as they embark on the challenges of the Test series.
Kohli, who has an impressive record of 1991 Test runs against England with an average of 42.36, had previously played in the Test series in South Africa after missing the white-ball games. India has a decision to make for the first two Tests, as their No.4 batter will be absent. They can choose to move Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul up in the lineup and bring in either KS Bharat or Dhruv Jurel as the primary wicketkeeper. Alternatively, they can consider bringing in Rajat Patidar, who recently performed well against England Lions, or Sarfaraz Khan, who has been waiting for an opportunity. Another option is to bring back Cheteshwar Pujara, who started the Ranji Trophy season with a double hundred. The first Test will take place in Hyderabad on January 25, followed by the second Test in Visakhapatnam on February 2.