India coach Ravi Shastri has leapt to the defence of Virat Kohli skipping his county cricket stint with Surrey saying that the Indian captain is not a machine and need his rest.
This reaction comes after a drama-filled day on Thursday where BCCI confirmed that Kohli has sustained a neck injury during the IPL, after reports of him suffering from a slipped disc did the rounds. A slipped disc would have been a far more serious injury, while a neck sprain requires rehab.
“[He had to skip the county stint] because he is not a top dog,” India coach Ravi Shastri was quoted as saying my Mumbai Mirror.
“He is not a machine but a human being. It is not a case of putting rocket fuel up his backside and getting him on the park. Even a top dog can’t be given rocket fuel up his backside,” the coach added. The top dog comment is in reference to Moeen Ali calling his RCB skipper a potential star at Surrey.
The 29-year-old injured his neck while playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore against Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 17, a BCCI release said. However, Kohli did take part in RCB’s final match of the season, against Rajasthan Royals, after that. While RCB didn’t qualify for the playoffs, whether he would have played had they made it to the last four is a question many are asking.
Kohli’s intense workload is not a secret. In the last one year, he played in nine Tests and 29 of the 32 ODIs that the national team played. He also played 9 out of India’s 18 T20 Internationals. In all, he played 47 international matches with only Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya (48 each) playing a match more than him. Add to it, the 14 IPL matches and his tally goes up to 61 in all.
However, Kohli was keen to play county cricket in preparation for the Test series, skipping the one-off Test against Afghanistan in June. He has not had the best of times in England and this match practice ahead of the crucial series would have been helpful for India. But now fatigue and the injury means that he will head to England after a rehab stint. Kohli is now slated to undergo a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru from June 15.
While many fans might be upset about him missing the country stint the bigger worry is whether the Indian captain will be 100% fit for the Test series in August, which will be preceded by a limited overs leg in July. India will play two Twenty20 Internationals against Ireland, starting on June 27, where Kohli has been named captain of the Indian team, ahead of the England series.