Virat Kohli will be missing the first two test matches against England starting on January 25. The reasons aren’t clear yet, however, the officials have made a public statement regarding the same. Kohli has informed Rohit Sharma and the selection committee before opting out of the first two tests. Moreover, he will join the team to play the last three test matches of the series. Since Kohli is in his prime form, the India team will be in the series. England is a pretty dangerous team and the absence of Kohli at the start of the series might haunt the team.
Nonetheless, the selectors must look for options to replace Kohli for the first two tests. As the series is in India, they have a lot of options when it comes to top-order batters. Starting from Ruturaj Gaikwad to Ajinkya Rahane, the options are more. However, the selectors should look for an experienced batter who can face the deadly England bowlers. After all, experience is significant when it comes to playing cricket.
Look at the three players who can be a good replacement for Virat Kohli in the test squad.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the players who has had a pretty decent record against England. Be it in India or in England, Pujara has always stood like a wall and gave his best for the team. Because of playing county, he has played a lot in the English conditions and with different bowlers. This is a bonus for the team if they are picking up Pujara for the test matches. One notable example of Pujara's match-winning abilities was his stellar performance during India's historic Test series victory in Australia in 2018-19. In the series, Pujara amassed 521 runs in four Tests at an impressive average of 74.42.
2. Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari may not have the experience of Pujara or Rahane, but he has showcased his mettle in challenging situations. One notable example is his gritty innings during the Sydney Test of the 2018-19 series against Australia. In a high-pressure situation, Vihari batted for 161 balls to score an unbeaten 42, helping India secure a draw. Vihari's ability to bat for long periods and absorb pressure makes him a valuable asset in Test cricket.
1. Ajinkya Rahane
India’s one of the best test-playing batters, Ajinkya Rahane deserves a place in the team in Kohli’s absence. Starting from fielding to batting, Rahane is a class striker of the ball. His ability to adapt to the situations makes him even more special. Since the matches will be in India, the chances of him performing well might increase. One of the standout moments in Rahane's career was his captaincy during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21 in Australia. After the Adelaide debacle, Rahane led from the front in the absence of Virat Kohli and guided India to a historic series win.