The Indian cricket team faces a challenge in the ongoing Test series against England, as senior batter Virat Kohli’s absence will continue. He will be absent through the third and fourth Tests in Rajkot and Ranchi. 

Concerns also loom over Kohli’s availability for the crucial fifth Test in Dharamsala, starting March 7. The selectors are in a tight spot as they convene this week to finalize the squad for the remaining matches.

Kohli is a pivotal figure in the Indian lineup. He withdrew from the first two Tests citing “personal reasons,” a decision announced by the BCCI just three days before the kickoff. Kohli joined the squad in Hyderabad on January 22, but left the same day. The BCCI has remained silent on his situation since their initial statement. 

The statement mentions Kohli’s conversation with Captain Rohit Sharma and the team management. It highlighs his commitment to the national team. However, it also states the need for his attention on personal matters.

India’s roster faces further scrutiny as the series progresses. Some key players’ fitness like KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja is under examination. Both players, integral to India’s batting strength, missed the second Test due to injuries. Now, they are optimistic about their return for the Rajkot match, pending fitness clearance from the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

Mohammed Siraj is slated to return to the lineup for the Rajkot Test. He took a rest for the second match to manage his workload. His comeback, alongside Jasprit Bumrah’s form — the only bowler to top the ICC rankings in all formats — adds depth to India’s attack. Managing Bumrah’s workload, especially after recovering from a stress fracture, remains a priority for the management.

After a disappointing loss in the first Test, India bounced back in Vizag, leveling the series 1-1. This comeback sets the stage for an intense battle in the upcoming matches. The Men in Blue look to compensate for Kohli’s absence. The team also banks on the return of key players to strengthen the batting and bowling lineups.

As the series heads into its critical phase, India must maintain their formidable home record. The results of the upcoming matches will test the squad’s depth in the face of adversity.

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