Dubai: Virat Kohli and his India cricket contingent have departed the UAE and arrived in Sydney for a 69-day all-format tour of Australia beginning November 27. But Rohit Sharma, who was added to the Test squad later, has stayed back in India and will join the team later.
Sharma has returned to India from the UAE for rehabilitation to his hamstring injury, after captaining Mumbai Indians to their fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) crown.
The Indian players have been allowed to travel with their families.
Along with the Indian contingent, the Australian players who were part of the IPL in the UAE, including Steve Smith, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Hazlewood, and James Pattinson, also reached the city, travelling on the same flight.
Sharma will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He will miss the limited-overs series, and will join the Test squad later.
Kohli will lead India in the three ODIs, three T20s, and the first of the four Tests, in Adelaide. He will return after the first Test to be with his wife Anushka Sharma who is expecting the couple’s first child.
Australia head coach Justin Langer has heaped praise on Kohli, saying the talismanic batsman is “probably the best player” he has seen in his life, adding that the absence of the India skipper will have an impact on India during the Tests.
“Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields,” Langer told reporters on Friday by video conference.
“I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision (to return for the birth).”
Anushka is due in January and Kohli has been given permission by the BCCI to go on paternity leave.
“He’s a human being like all of us ... if I was giving advice to any of my players I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do,” said the Australia head coach.
“Of course it will have an impact (his absence), but we also know that India beat us last time (in 2018-19). They’re a very, very good team, we cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat.”
The tour will commence with the three ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground (November 27, 29) and Manuka Oval, Canberra (December 2). That will be followed by the three-match T20 series at Manuka Oval, Canberra (December 4) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (December 6, 8).
Team India will then begin the title defence of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with the pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 17. It will be followed by Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26), the SCG (January 7) and the Gabba (January 15).