Former India captain Virat Kohli and KL Rahul are expected to return for the final three Test matches against England as India aim to complete a comeback after levelling the series at 1-1 in Visakhapatnam on Monday. BCCI’s election committee are likely to announce the India squad soon. The return of the two senior cricketers are set to cause a selection headache for the playing XI in the third Test, which begins on February 15 in Rajkot, but former India cricketer Pragyan Ojha feels that Shreyas Iyer should make way for Kohli in the line-up and advised him to return to domestic cricket amid his poor run of form.
Iyer has gone 13 straight innings without scoring even a fifty. His last knock of a half-century was against Bangladesh in December 2022. He averages only 17 during this period. The middle-order batter has also not notched up a century since his debut appearance in November 2021 – that’s a stretch of 23 innings.
In the ongoing series against England, Iyer has managed only 114 runs in four innings where the likes of Kevin Pietersen have immensely criticised him for his bizarre tactic against both pacers and spinners.
During a discussion show on Colors Cineplex, Ojha expressed that Kohli and Rahul would be automatic picks if they returned to the squad for the remainder of the series, which implied that both Iyer and Rajat Patidar would have to sit out. Patidar was picked as Kohli’s replacement for the first two Tests after the India star had pulled out, citing personal reasons, but the batter was undone by spin in both innings as he scored 41 runs for India.
“Shreyas Iyer was left slightly behind. When you talk about great batters like Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul has also scored runs, when they return, they will automatically be part of the XI. So probably Shreyas Iyer and Rajat Patidar will have to make way because the situation is like that,” said Ojha. “It’s not that you don’t want to give opportunities, but when great batters are coming and you don’t have that much room, you cannot give them the cushion. So go back and score runs in domestic cricket.”
Will Kohli and Rahul return for last three England Tests?
On Sunday, Kohli’s close friend and former South Africa captain AB de Villiers lifted the suspense over the India batter’s absence from the first two Tests against England, saying that he and his wife Anushka Sharma are expecting their second child.
In the wake of the big revelation, India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, was asked if Kohli could make himself available for the England series, but the former India captain remained tight-lipped on the details.
He said: “I think it’s best to ask the selectors. I am sure they are the best people to answer ahead of the team selection for the next three Tests. We will get to that. I am sure there will be selection over the next few days. We will connect with him and find out.”
Rahul, who had complained of quadriceps pain before the second Test, is, however, expected to return to the India squad for the last three matches.