In a surprising turn of events, the Indian cricket team faces a significant setback ahead of the much-anticipated five-match Test series against England, with star batter Virat Kohli withdrawing from the first two Tests due to personal reasons. Kohli’s absence will undoubtedly be a void to fill, considering his stellar record against England in the longest format.

The Indian selectors now find themselves confronted with the challenging task of identifying the right replacement from the domestic talent pool. Three players, in particular, have been making waves with their outstanding performances, emerging as potential candidates to step into Kohli’s shoes for the initial two Tests.

Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara, who was once hailed as the ideal successor to Rahul Dravid, has been making a strong case for his inclusion. Despite being dropped after a lean patch in the World Test Championship final in 2023, Pujara has rebounded impressively in the ongoing Ranji season. Leading the run charts with 444 runs at an average of 111, including a double century and a fifty, the seasoned batsman’s experience in 103 Tests makes him a compelling option.

Sarfaraz Khan

Sarfaraz Khan, a 26-year-old Mumbai batter, has consistently impressed in domestic cricket despite being overlooked by selectors. His prolific run-scoring in the Ranji Trophy seasons of 2019-20, 2021-22, and 2022-23, coupled with a recent score of 96 against England Lions in a warm-up fixture, positions him as a strong contender. Sarfaraz’s ability to tackle spin bowling adds to his allure.

Rajat Patidar

The third contender, Rajat Patidar, has showcased his batting prowess with notable performances in the past two Ranji Trophy seasons. His recent spectacular knock of 151 for India A against England Lions, following a century in the warm-up fixture, underscores his form and puts him in contention for the vacant spot.

As the Indian selectors weigh their options, the decision to replace Virat Kohli becomes a critical one, and these three players present compelling cases to step up to the challenge in the first two Tests against England.

By Ritik Sharma

A common man who is doing calm se kaam, a failed cricketer, still in love with it. Establishing my journey into Journalism & if you love my articles then share it with your dear ones Instagram - @ritiksharma45