Virat Kohli has withdrawn from the first two Tests of the England series starting January 25. Here are some options India have to choose from to replace Kohli.

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India’s five-match home Test series against England starts on January 25 in Hyderabad. Three days before the first Test match, India have suffered a major blow with star-batter Kohli being ruled out of the first two Tests. Kohli requested to be withdrawn from the squad citing personal reasons.

Here are some batting options India can look towards to replace Kohli in the India squad for the England Tests.

Cheteshwar Pujara

Pujara was dropped from the India Test squad following the 2023 World Test Championship final. Having played over a 100 Tests matches, he has been in good form in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season. He started with a double century against Jharkhand. Shubman Gill, who has replaced Pujara at No.3 in Tests, has not put in performances of note yet, and India can consider going back to Pujara, particularly in the absence of Kohli at No.4.

Ajinkya Rahane

Rahane returned to the Test side for the 2023 WTC final, but was dropped after the West Indies tour where he failed to score. He’s currently going through a torrid time in domestic cricket, having registered two back-to-back golden ducks in his first two innings in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. He has, however, made several comebacks in the course of his Test career, and may make another one.

Rajat Patidar

The 30-year-old right-hand batter from Madhya Pradesh recently made his international debut in the ODI series against South Africa. He is yet to play Test cricket but has been in great form lately, having scored a counterattacking 151 in the unofficial Test against England Lions last week. A naturally aggressive strokemaker, Patidar might be the closest like-for-like replacement for Kohli.

Rinku Singh

Rinku has been setting the stage on fire in T20Is ever since his debut. He has a strong first-class record as well, having scored more than 3,000 runs at an average of 58. He has been included in the India A squad for the third unofficial ‘Test’ against the England Lions, indicating that he is in the scheme of things as far as Test cricket is concerned. If India feel the need of another left-handed batter, they can turn to him.

Sarfaraz Khan

Sarfaraz had been piling on the runs in first-class cricket in the last few years and was widely expected to make the Indian Test side, but has not yet been able to. He is, however, regularly part of the India A team and has been doing well. His last outing was against the England Lions, where he scored a fighting second-innings 55 to help India A save the game.