India will be playing Afghanistan in their inaugural Test match starting from June 14, 2018, at Bangalore’s M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. However, India will be missing a key player in their arsenal, as regular captain Virat Kohli has decided to play county cricket in order to prepare for the England series.
It was speculated that Virat might go for county cricket in order to prepare for the upcoming tour of England in July-August, where India plays 3 T20Is, 3 ODIs, and 5 Test matches. Virat doesn’t enjoy a very good record in England, where he has scored just 134 runs in 10 Test innings and averages a minuscule 13.4 with a best of 39.
Virat Kohli has signed up with English county side Surrey in the County Championship and this will be a big decision by him in order to face the stern test of England. Therefore he has decided to miss the Afghanistan Test in the month of June; a tough choice to make.
His decision to do so has made him a center of criticism from all corners of the cricketing world. Voices from many quarters said that he should have missed a part of IPL in order to play county; while some said, he should have come back from England to play Afghanistan Test and then go back and continue.
Michael Clarke found it surprising that Virat is prioritizing one country over another in Tests and should give equal credit to any side he plays against. Many former Indian cricketers too called for Kohli to not miss the Afghanistan Test, in order to prepare for a more important Test series against England in England.
These were the same people that had called for important Indian players to miss the Sri Lanka Test series in November-December, 2017, in order to prepare for the tour to South Africa in January of 2018.
Ironically, lack of preparation in Proteas conditions was the main cause behind India’s 1-2 loss in the three-match series.
Though the occasion of Afghanistan’s inaugural Test is a big one, as the cricketing fraternity will welcome its 12th and latest Test nation; one must not lose focus on the much tougher England Test series. India has not had a good time in England on their previous two tours in 2011 and 2014, losing 0-4 and 1-3 respectively, both times.
This time Virat Kohli and co. are determined to beat the English in their own den and to do that, preparation should be must and that is what captain Kohli is doing. He is the lynchpin of Indian batting lineup and knows that his previous record goes against him and that England bowlers will target him in the five-Test series. Therefore he doesn’t want to miss any chance to prepare himself against each and every challenge thrown at him.
If he has decided to miss the Afghanistan Test for this matter, it doesn’t mean that the big occasion loses its sheen. India still has top players like Ajinkya Rahane, who will captain India in Kohli’s absence, Shikhar Dhawan, Pujara, Ashwin, Jadeja, Shami and Ishant Sharma; who will be hard challenges enough for Afghanistan in their debut match.
As captain and leading batsman, Kohli has to set the agenda and the tempo to make for a successful campaign in England.
A good England tour will also result in high confidence for the following tour of Australia. Kohli knows that if he doesn’t do well in England, it could undo every good thing that he has achieved for Team India in his tenure as full-time captain since 2015.
England will be a stern Test of Team India’s reputation of the best Test team in the last two years and Virat Kohli’s reputation as the best and no.1 Test batsman in the world for the past few years.