On the eve of the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, India head coach Rahul Dravid dropped a Virat Kohli bombshell.


Rahul Dravid confirmed that the talismanic India batter will miss the first T20I against Afghanistan because of personal reasons.

“Virat Kohli will miss the first game due to personal reasons. He will be playing from the second and third T20I,” Rahul Dravid told reporters in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. 

Virat Kohli's decision to skip the first game against Afghanistan appeared to be quite strange, considering that only minutes after Rahul Dravid's press conference he shared a video of his holiday home in Alibaug on social media.

“Kickstarting 2024 at the Baugh! Love my new holiday home at Avas Living, Alibaugh. Super excited to give you a sneak peek into my oasis,” Virat Kohli wrote in his post on X, previously Twitter. 

In the video, Virat Kohli gave the fans a brief tour of his bungalow in the coastal town before revealing that he liked relaxing there.

“Most of the day I was out practicing and stuff, but whenever there was an occasion in the house, the commonplace was the dinner table where all the food would be spread out and everyone sits together. So that's something that I could not do enough of. We make sure that we don't miss out on that and we make sure that it's a practice in our household, just spending time here,” the former India captain highlighted.


“When you're part of so much going on all the time and things are so hectic on the outside, you always want to get away as much as possible. And Alibaug allows us to do that. And I feel really, really good whenever I've been here. And all the intensity of what's going on just comes down and you feel relaxed,” Virat Kohli elaborated.


“The outdoors here is where I'd like to sit down and have a cup of coffee and really chill out and relax. I'm never really on holiday, if that makes any sense to people who take proper holidays. I don't think it would, but in my case, I'm always on a fixed diet. I'm always on a fixed training routine, and hence my morning routine is pretty similar. Wake up, just chill out, relax, drink some lemon water, really ease into the morning and then start with breakfast. And from there, the day goes on,” he mentioned. 

The series against Afghanistan is Team India's last T20I assignment before the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the US in June.


Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have returned to India's T20I squad after more than a year. In fact, this would be their first series in the shortest format since India's defeat to eventual champions England in the semifinals of the last T20 World Cup in Australia.


Rahul Dravid explained the logic behind Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma not playing T20I cricket for over a year.

“There's been quite a few ICC events over the last two, three years, and a lot of them back to back. So there's not been a lot of time in between these ICC events. At various stages, in the last couple of years that I've been here, we've had to prioritise certain formats, certain tournaments, simply because just the amount of cricket that is being played, and just managing the players, it's impossible for all the players to be playing all the time,” Rahul Dravid pointed out.


“So we've always had to to prioritise what is important, especially for the guys who are playing all the three formats. Even in this series, people such as [Jasprit] Bumrah, [Ravindra] Jadeja and [Mohammed] Siraj have missed out because keeping in mind the five Test matches that we have against England. So you're always playing that juggling act a little bit over the last two years,” the India coach stressed. 

Latest reports suggest that Rohit Sharma is on course to lead in the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the US in June.


While Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have made themselves available for the T20 World Cup, the latter's place in the national squad for the premier competition is reportedly not guaranteed as the selectors are keen to infuse fresh blood in the team.


“If you have Rohit, Shubman Gill, Virat, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik constituting your top five then where is your left-hander? Now, let's assume you drop Kohli and play Gill at No.3 with Yashasvi Jaiswal opening with Rohit. Can Ajit take that bold call,” a former national selector told PTI.


“The flexibility will always be an issue but there would always be external factors that need to be countered. Did you see ICC promoting the tourney with Kohli's giant billboard video in New York. MI handle put that aerial advert of Rohit and Shaheen Shah Afridi. So there will be external pressure,” the ex-BCCI office bearer affirmed.


“It will be on Jay how much he can empower Agarkar's committee. As of now you need to accommodate both or drop both. The sensible thing would be to include both for Afghanistan and not make any promise for World T20 till the IPL performance is monitored,” the veteran administrator explained.


Interestingly, the doubts over Virat Kohli's place in India's T20 squad for the World Cup come despite the Delhi-born cricketer being the highest run-getter in the last edition of the competition in Australia in 2022.


Moreover, if one talks about strike rate, which is the most crucial factor for a batter in T20Is, Virat Kohli's strike rate was much better than Rohit Sharma's in the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.


According to reports, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been picked for the T20I series against Afghanistan, with the rider that an impressive showing in the three matches against the Central Asian side isn't a guarantee for a place in the squad for the T20 World Cup later this year.


The Ajit Agarkar-led selection committee has reportedly conveyed to Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma that they would have to score heavily in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to be in contention for a spot in the T20 World Cup.


Unlike Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma hasn't been in the best of forms in T20Is. The 36-year-old made only 656 runs at an average of 24.29 and a strike rate of 134.42 in T20Is in 2022, the last year he featured for Team India in the format. 


In contrast, Virat Kohli was a prolific scorer in 2022, scoring 781 runs in 20 T20I matches at a superb average of 55.78 and a strike rate of 138.23.


Even Rohit Sharma's captaincy has come under the spotlight in recent weeks, with multiple cricket pundits sharing critical views about Rohit Sharma's leadership, with Sanjay Manjrekar being the latest to slam the Nagpur-born cricketer for mistakes during India's recent tour of South Africa.


“In Test cricket if you lose moments, you lose the game. Rohit made mistakes in both Tests and while it cost us massively in the first game, thankfully Siraj had given allowance for the second Test. Siraj bowling just one over when Markram was scoring and the lead swelled to 60 was a mistake,” Sanjay Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo.


“Rohit Sharma is still among the last of the old-school Test batters. Only he can tell us how much Test cricket he wants to play. I think if he wants to extend his Test career, there will be no competition. Virat Kohli I feel will play as long as possible and thankfully for us. This tour in tough conditions just the difference between him and the next best Test batter India has at least until Rishabh Pant is back,” Sanjay Manjrekar added.


Sanjay Manjrekar is not the only former Team India cricketer to question Rohit Sharma's on-field tactics during the Test series against South Africa.


Previously, India great Ravi Shastri blasted his leadership in India's first Test defeat to the Proteas in Centurion.


Ravi Shastri was particularly furious with Rohit Sharma employing Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur immediately after Lunch in South Africa's first innings at the SuperSport Park, allowing the hosts to take control of the proceedings on the pitch.


“On any pecking order, these two (Shardul and Prasidh) would have been the last to start the proceedings (after lunch). That's something that we've had a discussion multiple times when I was the coach. And more often than not we decided to go with the best two bowlers at the start of the session,” the ex-India all-rounder said on Star Sports.