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India's squad for the remaining three Tests against England will not include Virat Kohli.
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India’s squad for the remaining three Tests against England will not include Virat Kohli.

For a while it looked like Jay Shah had misplaced his rubber stamp but on Saturday, after the all-clear from the BCCI’s honorary secretary, India finally named their squad for the final three Tests against England and confirmed that Virat Kohli will not be returning.

Kohli sat out the first two instalments citing personal reasons and, with the series locked at 1-1, the situation is unchanged for the remaining fixtures in Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamshala. “The Board fully respects and supports Mr Kohli’s decision,” said Shah in the BCCI squad release that included Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul after recent injuries.

This marks the first instance in which Kohli will not participate in a complete Test series at home since he began playing in 2011. This may boost England’s spirits to some extent. Despite being 35 years old, he remains the top-ranked batsman for his country in Test matches (ranking seventh) and maintains an average of 60 on Indian grounds. He has been a key player in India’s unbroken streak of series wins at home for the past 11 years.

However, despite their expressed interest in being entertained, Ben Stokes and his team may also feel a sense of disappointment that a prominent player will not be participating in this highly anticipated Test series. The TV networks will undoubtedly feel the absence of Kohli’s popularity, as will the numerous fans who proudly display his jersey number, 18.

Apart from Kohli, India’s team has made some alterations. Jadeja and Rahul have returned to the squad after missing the 106-run victory in Visakhapatnam, but with conditions attached to their names. They both suffered hamstring and quad injuries, so they will have to undergo more fitness assessments before the third Test in Rajkot on Thursday.

If Rahul is able to play, he may replace Shreyas Iyer in the middle order. Iyer was not included in the list without any explanation given. It has been reported by local sources that Iyer has been dealing with back and groin pain since the end of the second Test, despite his strong performance with the bat.

Mohammed Shami will be unable to participate in the series due to an ankle injury, while Mohammed Siraj will make a comeback to strengthen India’s seam options after a period of rest. Jasprit Bumrah is also part of the 17-man squad, but the Indian team is currently considering the best way to handle his workload for the upcoming matches.

Based on the current score and Bumrah’s impressive performance of taking nine English wickets last week, it would be unexpected if India gives their opponents a break in Rajkot. The outcome may be influenced by the condition of the 30-year-old player after the ongoing nine-day break and the type of surface the teams will be playing on.

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The Indian team for the remaining three Tests against England includes Rohit Sharma as captain, with Jasprit Bumrah as vice-captain. Other players selected are Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel, KS Bharat, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, and Akash Deep. However, the availability of KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja is dependent on them passing fitness tests.

Source: theguardian.com