New Delhi: Talismanic India batter Virat Kohli had flown back home in the middle of preparation for the upcoming Test series against South Africa due to a family emergency. On the other hand, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad is set to be ruled out of the Test series after sustaining a finger injury in the just-concluded ODI series.
As per a report in Cricbuzz, Kohli left for Mumbai about three days ago after obtaining permission from the team management and the BCCI to skip the three-day practice game the Indian Test squad is currently playing in Pretoria.
The former India captain is expected to be back in South Africa on Friday. “The exact details of the emergency are not clear, but BCCI sources say that he will be back in Johannesburg in time for the first Test, which starts at Centurion on December 26,” added the report.
Meanwhile, Gaikwad suffered a finger injury in India’s second ODI against South Africa at Gqeberha and missed the series decider in Paarl on Thursday.
“Ruturaj Gaikwad hasn't fully recovered from the blow he sustained to his ring finger while fielding in the second ODI. He remains under the supervision of the BCCI Medical Team,” the BCCI said at that time.
The report added that Gaikwad won’t be able to recover in time for the Test series and is expected to reach India on Saturday.
“It has now emerged that there is no chance of his recovery before either of the two Tests and the team management, after consulting the BCCI, has decided to release him immediately,” it added.
The report also said the Indian squads for all three formats will now assemble in Johannesburg post the conclusion of the ODI series and three-day practice game and travel from there to Centurion for the first Test against South Africa.
India’s two Tests against South Africa will be played in Centurion from December 26-30 and in Cape Town from January 3-7, 2024. It is India's second series of the 2023-2025 World Test Championship cycle, after winning the two-Test series in West Indies in July by 1-0.
The last time India played a Test series in South Africa was in December 2021-January 2022. At that time, India won the first Test in Centurion, before South Africa bounced back to win matches in Johannesburg and Cape Town to eventually claim the series 2-1, thus increasing the visitors’ search for a first-ever Test series win in the country.