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regular-article-logo Monday, 20 May 2024

Rohit test in Cup rehearsal: Virat Kohli to miss first T20I match against Afghanistan

Like Kohli, Rohit too had made his last T20 appearance for India in the 2022 (T20) World Cup semi-final clash against England in Adelaide, where his team got thrashed by 10 wickets

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 11.01.24, 08:36 AM
Virat Kohli (left) will not be playing the first T20I on Thursday.

Virat Kohli (left) will not be playing the first T20I on Thursday. PTI

The focus would have been on both captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli when India faced Afghanistan in the first T20I at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Thursday. But Kohli will be out of the series opener due to personal reasons and available from the second game in Indore on Sunday.

“Virat will miss the first game due to personal reasons,” head coach Rahul Dravid said on Wednesday, the eve of the opening T20I.

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“He will be playing from the second and third T20I.”

India captain Rohit Sharma at practice in Mohali on Wednesday.

India captain Rohit Sharma at practice in Mohali on Wednesday. PTI

A big part of the attention on Thursday would thus be on Rohit, who, too, is making a comeback to T20I cricket after 14 months. Like Kohli, Rohit too had made his last T20 appearance for India in the 2022 (T20) World Cup semi-final clash against England in Adelaide, where his team got thrashed by 10 wickets.

If Kohli’s strike rate in T20Is was a matter of concern, Rohit even struggled for runs upfront, which was evident in that World Cup where a solid start from the top order remained elusive. However, his superb strokeplay and fearless approach in last year’s ODI World Cup went a long way in earning his spot back in T20Is. Also a factor is the absence of the injured Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav,
both of whom have led the side in T20Is since the last T20 showpiece.

Class is permanent, and that’s something Rohit would certainly be willing to prove in this series against the Afghans. This is India’s last international series before the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the United States in June, so the IPL aside, these three games too assume a fair amount of significance for finalising the squad for the Cup.

(Picture above) India's Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma, (picture bottom left) Rinku Singh and Arshdeep Singh at training in Mohall on Wednesday, the eve of the first T20I against Afghanistan.

(Picture above) India's Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma, (picture bottom left) Rinku Singh and Arshdeep Singh at training in Mohall on Wednesday, the eve of the first T20I against Afghanistan. PTI

If Rohit can make an impact with his bat at the top in the shortest format, he should be a strong contender to lead India in the mega event even if Pandya — earlier tipped as India’s regular T20I captain — is 100 per cent fit.

Yashasvi Jaiswal is set to open with Rohit on Thursd­ay. With Kohli absent, Shubman Gill appears to be the No.3 batter with Tilak Varma, keeper-batter Sanju Samson, Rinku Singh and spinner all-rounder Axar Patel likely to follow.

Afghanistan skipper Ibrahim Zadran in Mohali on Wednesday.

Afghanistan skipper Ibrahim Zadran in Mohali on Wednesday. PTI

Quicks Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan alongside chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi may make the XI.

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