Indian captain Virat Kohli is set to make a return into the playing XI in India’s upcoming home Test series against England. Earlier, the cricketer took a paternity leave after the first Test of the four-match series against Australia in December 2020. In Kohli’s absence, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane took over captaincy and led India to a 2-1 series win Down Under with victories in the second and fourth Tests.
A depleted Indian unit ravaged with injuries recently won the series in Australia by making a comeback from their 36 all out drubbing at the Adelaide Oval. Several key players unavailable due to injuries coupled with Kohli’s leave of absence prompted many youngsters and replacements to cover for their senior players. With a pantheon of former cricketers and experts praising India’s bench-strength after their memorable win, a certain Australian quick believes that the Indian team actually flourished because of Kohli’s leadership absence.
Former Australian speedster Shane Lee recently lauded Ajinkya Rahane while speaking on the Afternoon Sport Podcast. He praised Rahane at Kohli’s expense, claiming that Indian players appear “almost scared” to “put a foot out of line” while playing under the latter’s leadership. According to him, Kohli demands “absolute professionalism” from his team while players appear to be more “relaxed” under Rahane.
Shane Lee, also a brother of another Australian bowling star Brett Lee, said that he would make Ajinkya Rahane India’s Test captain if he was a selector. Shane believes that even though Virat Kohli is “one of the greatest batsmen of all time”, a relief from captaincy would help his batting even more, a view which former England captain Michael Vaughan also expressed recently.
On January 19, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced an 18-member Indian squad for the Test series against England. Apart from the return of Virat Kohli, speedsters Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma are also making a return to their line-up after recovering from their respective injuries.
Moreover, recent debutants like Washington Sundar, Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj also managed to retain their spots in the squad for their impressive outings in Australia. Here is a look at the entire Indian squad as well as a detailed itinerary for the India vs England 2021 Test series.
TEAM - Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya (VC), KL Rahul, Hardik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur— BCCI (@BCCI) January 19, 2021
Despite questions being raised over his leadership attributes, his captaincy record indicates that he is the most successful Indian Test captain of all time with 33 wins. Captaincy aside, even Kohli centuries column as an individual makes for a staggering read in Test cricket. He has scored 27 tons in the format and his batting stats also includes 23 half-centuries.
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