Virat Kohli, who emerged as the leading run-scorer in the recently concluded World Cup, is slated to participate in the upcoming two-match Test series, commencing with the Boxing Day clash in Centurion.
However, his presence in the white-ball fixtures of India’s South Africa tour, which kicks off with a T20 International on December 10 in Durban, remains uncertain. Kohli has conveyed his decision to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to opt for a break during this phase of the tour, thus ruling himself out of contention for selection in the limited-overs formats.
The South Africa tour encompasses three T20 internationals, three ODIs, followed by the aforementioned Test series. While Kohli’s absence in the white-ball games marks a strategic move, speculation surrounds the participation of Rohit Sharma in these matches, as clarity on his involvement is yet to be provided.
The responsibility of selecting the Indian squad across all three formats rests with the national selection committee, led by former India all-rounder Ajit Agarkar, and the finalized teams are anticipated to be announced in the coming days. Kohli’s stellar performance in the World Cup, where he accumulated 765 runs in 11 innings with three centuries, earned him the accolade of being named the Player of the Tournament.
An anonymous source reported: “He (Kohli) has informed the BCCI and selectors that he needs a break from white-ball cricket and he will get back to them about when he wants to play white ball cricket next. At the moment he has informed the BCCI that he will be playing red-ball cricket, which means he is available for selection for the two Test matches in South Africa”
The inaugural Test is scheduled for Boxing Day at Centurion, followed by the second Test in Cape Town. Currently enjoying a holiday in London, Virat Kohli, who has been immersed in continuous cricketing commitments over the past few months, last took a break prior to the World Cup in September. Alongside captain Rohit Sharma, Kohli was rested for the initial two ODIs against Australia at home during that period.
Presently, Rohit’s availability for white-ball selection remains uncertain. The skipper, having led the Indian team to an impressive ten consecutive victories in the World Cup before the final defeat, is also on a break in the United Kingdom post the tournament. BCCI Secretary Jay Shah is set to engage in discussions with Rohit and Chairman of Selectors Agarkar to outline the future roadmap.
Reflecting on Kohli’s past breaks, it is noted that after the England tour last year, he took time off, abstaining from two limited-over series in the West Indies and Zimbabwe. Upon his return, Kohli expressed how the break significantly benefited him, acknowledging the need to avoid ‘faking his intensity.’
Notably, during the World Cup, Kohli not only matched Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI record of 49 centuries but surpassed it. His centuries against Bangladesh, South Africa, and New Zealand contributed to this feat, with the record-breaking moment occurring in the game against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium.