'Respect Virats…': BCCI's plea to fans after Kohli opts out of ENG Tests | cricket

Team India has suffered a major blow ahead of the upcoming Test series against Ben Stokes' England. Former India captain Virat Kohli is unavailable for the first two matches of the England Test series. Kohli has withdrawn from the first two Tests due to personal reasons, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed on Monday. BCCI secretary Jay Shah has revealed that India will soon name Kohli's replacement for the first two Tests against England.

India's Virat Kohli during a training session (PTI)

Rohi Sharma's Team India will face England in the first Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday. Kohli recently returned to the T20I format in the three-match Afghanistan series. Batting icon Kohli missed the start of the T20I series due to personal reasons. Kohli played a quick knock against the Rashid Khan-less team in the crucial series finale in Indore. The former India captain then recorded his first ever golden duck in his final T20I appearance for India before this year's T20 World Cup.

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In a media release on Monday, the BCCI revealed that Kohli has requested that the Apex Cricket Board of India withdraw from the first two Tests of the England series due to personal reasons. Veteran Indian batsman Kohli discussed his decision to skip the first two Tests with captain Rohit Sharma and the team management. The BCCI also urged fans and media to refrain from speculation about Kohli's exit from the Indian squad for the first two Tests.

BCCI's earnest request to fans and media

“The BCCI respects its decision and the board and team management have extended their support to the star batter and are confident that the remaining squad members can perform even better and deliver commendable performances in the Test series.” The BCCI appeals to the media and fans , to respect Virat Kohli's privacy at this time and not to speculate on the nature of his personal reasons. The focus should remain on supporting the Indian cricket team as they face the challenges ahead in the Test series,” the BCCI said in a statement.

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Kohli did not feature in India's optional training session on Monday after arriving in Hyderabad. The former Indian captain last played a Test match during the South Africa series. The 35-year-old played a crucial role in India's series-levelling win over the Proteas in Cape Town. The batting champion had a break throughout the white-ball series against South Africa. With Kohli unavailable for the first two Tests, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rajat Patidar, Abhimanyu Easwaran and Sarfaraz Khan are top candidates to join the Indian squad for the England series.