Indian superstar Virat Kohli will not feature in any of the five Tests against England after withdrawing for “personal reasons”.
It’s the same reason Kohli gave to miss the opening two matches of the series, which were split between the teams, but the 35-year-old has now revealed he will miss all five Tests.
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Originally named in India’s squad for the final three Tests of the series, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released a statement with few additional details.
“Virat Kohli will remain unavailable for selection for the remainder of the series due to personal reasons,” the BCCI said in a statement.
“The Board fully respects and supports Mr. Kohli’s decision.”
While Kohli or the BCCI hasn’t revealed the reason for his absence, South African cricket legend and Kohli’s great mate AB de Villiers revealed that his second child set to be born.
“Yes, his second child is on the way. Yes, it’s family time and things are important to him,” de Villiers revealed.
“If you are not true and genuine to yourself, you lose track of what you are here for — what are we doing on Earth, what are we here for.
“I think most people’s priority is family. You can’t judge Virat for that. Yes, we miss him. But he has made absolutely the right decision.”
Kohli has history choosing family first, having left after the first Test of India’s last series in Australia in 2020/21 when he returned home for the birth of his first child.
Another South African legend Dale Steyn told the Hindustan Times that he had left the IPL when his dog was sick.
“Family is your most important priority,” Steyn began.
“Sorry, that’s it. That’s the end of the story right there.
“I’ve got three dogs and when one of them got sick, I was out of the IPL. I was jumping on the plane out of there to come back and see my dog. So that’s my family.
“If Virat Kohli has decided to sit back home because he wants to be with his wife, if he’s going to have his second child, I don’t see any problem with that. He’s been a servant of India for many years. He’s won a World Cup; he’s captained with success. I don’t know what more a man can do to prove himself in the cricketing world.
“I think at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter about cricket. What matters is why you’re playing and who helped you get there.
“The people behind you or behind the scenes, are the ones the public doesn’t see. Your partner, your mother, your wife, your sister … those are the people that are constantly picking you up and if it means that their health is in jeopardy or something is wrong with them, you go to them and that’s the most important thing.”
While there will be some fans who aren’t happy with the development, there’s no doubt Kohli has been one of the great servants of Indian cricket.
Kohli, who amassed 765 runs in 11 ODI World Cup matches for runners-up India last year, missed the white-ball leg of the South African tour in 2023 and the opening T20 match against Afghanistan at home earlier this year.
The 35-year-old remains the backbone of India’s batting with 8,848 runs including 29 centuries and an average of over 49 in 113 Tests.
Top order batsman Shreyas Iyer was another notable absence from the 17-man squad named for the remainder of the series by the board on Saturday.
Iyer, who was in the XI for the first two Tests but struggled to find his form in any of his four innings, had back surgery for a slipped disc last year.
ESPNCricinfo reported he had told team management that he suffered a flare-up of back spasms after the second Test in Visakhapatnam this month.
Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul were both included but their participation was “subject to fitness clearance from the BCCI medical team”, the board said.
England, led by Ben Stokes, won the opener to hand the hosts just their fourth loss at home since 2013 but Rohit Sharma’s team bounced back in the next match with a 106-run victory.
The series concludes with Tests in Rajkot starting February 15, Ranchi starting February 23 and Dharamsala from March 7.
Originally published as ‘Personal reasons’: Virat Kohli to miss entire England series