Virat Kohli set to miss historic first test against Afghanistan
Indian captain Virat Kohli has officially inked a deal which will see him play for English country side Surrey throughout the month of June. The move means he will miss Afghanistan’s first ever test, which is set to take place from June 14-18.
The historic test
With Afghanistan given full Test playing status last June, the Afghanistan Cricket Board set about finding a suitable candidate to play their first ever test against. In December of last year, it was determined that that side would be India.
Though the test will be purely a one-off, rather than part of an extended series, and it is likely to be a one-sided affair, there will no doubt be plenty of interest in the historic event. Scheduled to take place in Bengaluru, it will also be the first Test match in history to be played in India in the month of June.
Unfortunately, however, Kohli will be a notable absentee from the game. He has been allowed to sign with Surrey for just a solitary month, giving him a chance to prepare for the Test series which India will play in England in July. The move will be beneficial not only for Kohli, but for Surrey as well, whose players will have the chance to play alongside and learn from arguably the best player in world cricket.
Who will be playing?
Potentially, Kohli won’t be the only frontline Indian player to miss the historic occasion. With the ensuing Test series against England clearly taking priority, it is expected many second-string players will take the place of India’s first tier players, to allow the latter to properly prepare for the English summer.
Among the players who have been touted as potential absentees from the game are Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandrin Ashwin, and Ishant Sharma. These players, perhaps along with more, will probably be sent to England in June to acclimitise to the vastly different conditions which they will face there in July.
Though Afghanistan would no doubt have enjoyed the opportunity to test themselves against many of the best players in the world, the absence of some Indian stars may work out well. Clearly, there will be a major talent differential in the game, and though the Afghanistan team will be thrilled to simply be playing on the International stage, it wouldn’t be ideal to see them comprehensively beaten, as they almost certainly would be against a full strength Indian side.
Even with a side which will probably more closely resemble their Second XI taking the field, India will no doubt still be heavy favourites to take out the game. Afghanistan are an improving cricketing nation, but they are a young one too, and will struggle against a world superpower like India. Without the might of the likes of Kohli though, they might just get that little bit closer.