Virat to miss Mohali T20I against Afghanistan

Mohali, Jan 10 (UNI) Virat Kohli will miss the first T20I against Afghanistan due to personal reasons, but will be available for the next two matches, India Coach Rahul Dravid said on Thursday.

“Virat Kohli will miss the first game due to personal reasons,” Dravid said. “He will be playing from the second and third T20I,” he told reporters on the eve of the match here.

The three-match series against Afghanistan is a much-needed balm for Virat who has not played a T20I match since the T20 World Cup semifinal defeat to England in November 2022.

The senior batsman had taken a break from T20Is to focus on the World Test Championship final and ODI World Cup in 2023.

Dravid added that there have been far too many ICC events in the last t20 to three years, and it is not possible for all the players to be playing all the time. “Therefore, we had to prioritise certain formats, certain tournaments, simply because of just the amount of cricket that is being played,” he said.

Prioritising what is good for important players like Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Siraj, who play all the formats was a foremost thing, considering the upcoming five-match Test series against England, Dravid said.

Also, there has not been enough time for T20 World Cup preparation, even though players will play IPL, which does not provide any platform for Indian players to play together, and hence it is important to rely on the cricket available with the team, he said.

Dravid also dismissed media reports of excluding Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan due to disciplinary action against them for the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan.

“No, absolutely not (disciplinary issue). Ishan Kishan was not available for selection. Ishan requested a break, which we agreed on in South Africa. We supported it. He has not yet made himself available,” he told reporters on the eve of the T20I match here.

Dravid also did not rule out Kishan out of India’s scheme of things. “I don’t think he has made himself available as yet. When he is available, he will play domestic cricket and make himself available for selection,” he said.

Dravid also said that Kishan had asked for a break due to mental fatigue during the South Africa tour, which the team management approved.

The India Head Coach also rubbished media reports on disciplinary action against Iyer. He clarified that the Mumbai batsman missed out due to lots of batting options.

“Shreyas Iyer missed out due to lots of batters in the mix – no disciplinary actions, these are fake (news reports),” he rebutted.

Dravid said it is unfortunate that a batsman of his caliber has been missed out, but it is not possible to blood-in everybody into the squad.

He also said Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal will be first-choice openers for T20I matches.

“As of now, we will be certainly opening with Rohit and Jaiswal. Jaiswal has done well as an opener for India, and will give a left-right combination for the team,” he told reporters on the eve of the first T20I against Afghanistan here.

Jaiswal was drafted into Team India after a superlative performance in the 2023 IPL, where he ended up as the fifth-highest run-gutter, scoring 625 runs under his belt. And he did it, at a 163.61 strike rate, giving himself a chance to get picked up for the national team.

Jaiswal’s flamboyance has not stopped thereof, it continued. He scored 430 runs in 14 innings at a 159.25 strike rate after debuting against West Indies in an away series last August.

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