Indian captain Virat Kohli may withdraw from the team for the last two Tests of the much-awaited four-match series against Australia as he is set to become a father in January. With the departure of Kohli from the team, Lokesh Rahul (KL Rahul) can get a place in the middle-order in the Indian team. Kohli’s wife actress Anushka Sharma is going to be a mother in January. However, nothing has been officially said about Kohli’s plan yet.
A source in the Cricket Board of India (BCCI) said that it is expected that Kohli can take a paternity leave after the first two Tests of the series starting on 17 December. The senior official said on the condition of confidentiality, ‘BCCI has always believed that family is a priority. In this case if the captain decides to take a paternity leave, he will be available for the first two Tests. This series of four Test matches will be held in Adelaide (Day-Night, 17 to 21 December), Melbourne (26 to 30 December), Sydney (7 to 11 January 2021) and Brisbane (15 to 19 January).
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The BCCI has encouraged cricketers to take paternity leave over the years and it will be no different for the captain and best batsman of India. The source said, “In normal condition, he could come back after the birth of the child, so he would be out of the team for a test. However, it will be difficult to return to the team again during the 14-day quarantine due to Kovid-19. In such a situation, Lokesh Rahul can get a chance in the middle order.
There is a possibility that Rohit Sharma will be fully fit before the Test series. Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Saw are present as openers in the team, so the team will miss the lack of Kohli in the middle order. The BCCI may also send Rohit along with the Indian team on a tour of Australia on 11 November. After landing on the ground for Mumbai Indians, the BCCI’s hopes regarding Rohit’s fitness have increased. In limited overs, this vice-captain of India along with the rest of the team members can board a chartered flight to Australia on 11 November.
The source said, ‘A decision will be taken soon in this regard. It would be fitting that Rohit be with the team and work on his strength and conditioning under the supervision of physio Nitin Patel and trainer Nick Webb. If needed, Rohit can be excluded from the squad for the ODI series starting on November 27 and he can return from the T20 International series. He can achieve full fitness till the test series.