Kohli to skip first Test against New Zealand

Kohli to skip first Test against New Zealand

MUMBAI: India’s regular captain Virat Kohli will skip the opening Test against New Zealand this month as the hosts named a depleted side for the two-match series on Friday.

The team will be led by Ajinkya Rahane in the Nov 25-29 test in Kanpur with Kohli returning at the helm for the second and final contest in Mumbai from Dec 3, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) said in a statement.

Opening batter Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fast bowling duo Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami — all regular members of the Indian Test side — were also missing from the squad.

The missing players, including Kohli, are expected to have been rested although the BCCI did not offer any reason for their exclusion.

In the absence of Pant, Wriddhiman Saha is expected to don the wicket-keeping gloves for the hosts.

Off-spinner Ravich­andran Ashwin will lead India’s spin heavy bowling line-up which also includes rookie pacers Prasidh Krishna and Mohammed Siraj.

New Zealand have included five spinners in their 15-man Test squad and will arrive in India immediately after their T20 World Cup final against arch-rivals Australia in Dubai on Sunday.

The series will be the first in the longest format between the two sides since they met in the June final of the inaugural World Test Championship, which was won by New Zealand.

Squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), KS Bharat (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2021

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