India batter Virat Kohli has emerged as a major doubt for the remainder of their Test series against England.
Kohli withdrew from the first two Tests citing personal reasons, with several Indian media outlets now reporting his absence will extend into at least the next two matches in Rajkot and Ranchi this month.
While there has been no official confirmation about the speculation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Kohli could also be unavailable for next month’s fifth and final Test in Dharamshala.
With almost 9000 Test runs and 29 centuries banked, Kohli, who averages 56.38 on home soil against England, has been a big miss in India’s middle-order in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
Shreyas Iyer has failed to pass 35 in his four innings but could be given a stay of execution if Kohli, the former India captain, continues to sit out.
It has also been reported India are giving serious consideration to resting Jasprit Bumrah when the series, currently level at 1-1, resumes in Rajkot next week in a further boost to the tourists’ hopes.
Bumrah was in electrifying form in Vizag with a match haul of nine wickets for 91 runs, helping him become the first India paceman to go top of the International Cricket Council’s Test bowling rankings.
Despite a 10-day gap between the end of the second and start of the third Tests, India are said to be mindful of Bumrah’s workload after returning from back surgery last year.
The 30-year-old has bowled 57.5 overs in the series so far and could be kept fresh for the fourth and fifth Tests.
Ahead of naming their squad for the third Test later this week, India must decide whether allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and batter KL Rahul are ready to return from injury.