For personal reasons, Virat Kohli withdrew from the first two Test matches.
Prior to the five-match Test series against England, the Indian squad has suffered a severe setback with the withdrawal of ace batsman Virat Kohli from the first two Tests for personal reasons. With a stellar record versus England, having amassed 1991 runs at an average of 42.36 with five hundreds and nine fifties in the longest format, the 35-year-old will be sorely missed in the first two matches.
Therefore, it will be an enormous burden for the selectors to replace Kohli, who is of such magnitude, to choose the best players from the pool of domestic talent. On the other hand, a few names are making a lot of noise these days due to their remarkable performances.
Praised as the ideal successor to the departed Rahul Dravid, Pujara was benched from the Test team after producing subpar performance against Australia in the World Test Championship final in 2023. To catch the attention of the selectors, the 35-year-old chose to put in a lot of effort in domestic cricket after accepting his defeat.
With 444 runs from five innings at an average of 111, one double century (243*), and one fifty to his credit, the Saurashtra hitter is the top run scorer in the current Ranji season. In addition, he just entered an exclusive group alongside Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sunil Gavaskar as the fourth player from India to achieve 20,000 runs in First Class Cricket. With 103 Test matches under his belt, Pujara would be the best option to take Kohli’s place in the first two Tests.
2. Sarfaraz Khan
The 26-year-old, who has been making tons of runs in the domestic circuit, has been one of the unluckiest cricket players in recent memory as selectors have consistently disregarded him. During the Ranji Trophy 2019–20, the Mumbai hitter started his golden run with 928 runs from nine innings at an average of 154.66, including three hundreds and two fifties.
He also concluded the 2021–22 season with 982 runs from nine innings at an average of 122.75, including four hundreds and two fifties, making him the league’s top run scorer. In addition, Sarfaraz scored 556 runs in nine innings during the 2022–2023 season, including three hundreds and one fiftie. His average was 92.66. He had a fantastic run, but he was not selected for his first India call-up. Along with his outstanding spin bowling ability, Sarfaraz recently struck 96 against the England Lions in a two-day warm-up match, which may tip the scales in his favour.
3. Rajat Patidar
Over the last two Ranji Trophy seasons, the 30-year-old batsman has been in incredible form. He has amassed 658 runs at an average of 82.25, including two hundreds and five fifties during Madhya Pradesh’s championship season in 2021–2022. In the 2022–2023 season, he scored 565 runs in 12 innings, adding 106 fifty-score points.
In the first unofficial Test, Patidar recently shown his batting talent by hitting a brilliant 151 for India A against the England Lions in Ahmedabad. He had earlier produced a fantastic knock of 111 in the two-day warm-up match against the same opponent. For this reason, the right-handed hitter is also in the running to take Kohli’s place in the opening two Test matches.