‘Personal situations demand his presence’: Kohli withdraws from start of England series in major India blow


India’s star batter Virat Kohli has withdrawn from his side’s first two Tests against England citing personal reasons.

Kohli had been named in the squad for Thursday’s series opener in Hyderabad, but requested a leave of absence.

He also withdrew from the second Test in Visakhapatnam beginning on February 2. 

“Mr Virat Kohli has requested the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to be withdrawn from the first two Tests … against England, citing personal reasons,” a statement from the BCCI said. 

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“Virat has spoken to captain Rohit Sharma, the team management and the selectors and has emphasised that while representing the country has always been his top priority, certain personal situations demand his presence and undivided attention. 

“The BCCI requests the media and fans to respect Virat Kohli’s privacy during this time and refrain from speculating on the nature of his personal reasons.”

Kohli’s absence is a massive blow for the home side, but things have not been going too smoothly for the tourists either.

Virat Kohli of India makes their way off after being dismissed during day two of the ICC World Test Championship Final between Australia and India at The Oval on June 08, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

England touched down in India without uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir after a visa delay saw him grounded in Abu Dhabi.

The Test squad was already a man down after Harry Brook returned home for personal reasons, and their number was thinned to 14 by the time they travelled from their training camp in the United Arab Emirates to Hyderabad.

There was a hold-up with Bashir’s paperwork, meaning he was unable to make the trip with the rest of the squad.

Bashir, who has a Pakistani background, was the only member of the touring party to experience such problems. 

The England and Wales Cricket Board is hopeful the issues will be ironed out after calling for assistance from its hosts.

“Bash will join us hopefully tomorrow – he’s got a couple of issues with his visa coming through,” said England coach Brendon McCullum.

“We’re confident on the back of the help from the BCCI and the Indian government that it will sort itself out pretty quickly.”

McCullum also offered his support to Brook, who left the squad over the weekend to be with his family.

There is no date for his return, but the lines of communication remain open and Brook will be making the decision.

“Obviously our thoughts are with Harry and his family, it’s a tough time,” McCullum said.

“It’s a privileged position to play cricket for a living, but some things are more important than that.

“There’s a chance he may return later in the tour, but for now we just want him to be with his family and do his thing. We’ll just keep talking.”

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