Kohli unavailable, Akash Deep gets maiden call-up

Mumbai, Feb 10 (UNI) Star India batsman Virat Kohli has expressed his unavailability for selection for the remaining three Test matches against England due to personal reasons.

“Virat Kohli will remain unavailable for selection for the remainder of the series due to personal reasons. The Board fully respects and supports Mr Kohli’s decision,” BCCI said. Kohli had missed the first two Tests in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam due to the same reason.

Earlier, the BCCI had issued a press statement requesting privacy for Kohli and added that the board, the selectors and team management respect the star Indian batsman’s decision and are ready to extend all support.

This is the first time that Kohli would be missing all the Test matches in a home series since his Test debut. Needless to say, his absence will throw a challenge on the middle-order batsmen to fill his shoes.

The BCCI also announced Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul’s availability subject to fitness clearance from its medical team.

Rahul missed the last match due to a quadriceps injury, and Jadeja had hurt his hamstring while attempting to steal a single in India’s second innings of the Hyderabad Test.

Sarfaraz Khan, who was brought into the squad as a replacement for Rahul for the Visakhapatnam Test, has been retained. Rajat Patidar continues to be a part of the squad due to the non-inclusion of Shreyas Iyer in the 17-member squad.

The BCCI, however, did not give any reason for Iyer’s omission. But, the star batsman has been complaining about having issues with his back and groin after the second Test.

The only other notable change is the drafting of Bengal pacer Akash Deep in Avesh Khan’s place. The latter has been released to play in the Ranji Trophy. The selectors also dropped spinner Saurabh Kumar.

Pacer Mohammed Shami was not included because he is yet to recover from his ankle injury. Jasprit Bumrah has been named as vice-captain for all the remaining matches.

The selectors continue to keep faith in KS Bharat, despite his poor batting display. Dhruv Jurel, the other wicketkeeper in the squad, is waiting in the wings to make his Test debut.

The third Test will commence on February 15 in Rajkot, while the fourth Test kickstarts in Ranchi on February 23. The fifth and final Test of the series will be played in Dharamsala on March 7.

Squad: 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, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep.

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