Former India skipper Virat Kohli and wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant have reportedly exited the team bio-bubble in Kolkata ahead of the third and final T20 International against the West Indies to be played at the Eden Gardens on February 20.
With India sealing the three-match T20I series in its favour after taking a 2-0 lead on Friday here, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has reportedly taken the decision to rest the two key players for the third T20I so that they can return fresh for the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka beginning in Mohali on March 4.
The duo, who scored 52 runs apiece during India’s eight-run win over the West Indies in the second T20I on Friday, will also reportedly be rested for the three-match T20I series against the Islanders to be played in Lucknow and Dharamsala on February 24, 26 and 27, respectively.
A report in espncricinfo said on Saturday that, “The decision to rest Kohli is understood to be part of a policy aimed at ensuring the all-format regulars are given breaks periodically… Kohli’s break at this juncture is to ensure he is fresh for the two-Test series that follows the T20Is against Sri Lanka.”
The BCCI is likely to announce the squad for the T20I series against Sri Lanka over the weekend.
The report said that Pant’s absence could pave the way for Shreyas Iyer or Ruturaj Gaikwad, who have warmed the bench in the T20Is so far, to become part of the playing XI against Sri Lanka in the T20Is. Young Ishan Kishan will likely take over the wicket-keeping duties.
Kohli has so far played 99 Tests and will be looking forward to his 100th in Mohali. He had missed the Johannesburg Test in South Africa due to back problem.
The last time Kohli was rested was for the New Zealand T20I series and the first Test at Jaipur in November following a gruelling four-month schedule that began with the England Test tour and ended with the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE.