Star Indian batsman Virat Kohli will miss the first of three T20 Internationals against Afghanistan due to “personal reasons”, coach Rahul Dravid said on Wednesday.Kohli and skipper Rohit Sharma both returned to the T20 squad after more than a year’s absence for the series starting on Thursday in Mohali, as the teams prepare for the T20 World Cup in June.
“Virat will miss the first game due to personal reasons,” Dravid said at a press conference.
“He will be playing from the second and third T20.”
Kohli and Rohit last played a T20 International in November 2022, when India lost to England in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
The second T20 will be played in Indore on Sunday with the final match in Bengaluru on Jan 17.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan skipper Ibrahim Zadran said leg-spinner Rashid Khan will miss the T20 series against India due to an injury, but added that the tourists have plenty of experience in reserve.
Rashid, a bowler with 347 international wickets across formats, underwent lower-back surgery in November but remains part of the travelling squad which will play the opener on Thursday.
“He is not totally fit [but] he is travelling with the team. We hope he gets fit soon,” Zadran told reporters.
“Without Rashid we will struggle but not that much. His experience is important for us but this is cricket, you should be ready for any kind of situation.”
Rashid, 25, is a pillar of a world-class Afghan spin attack that also includes Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad and Mohammad Nabi.
“Playing against India on their home soil is a difficult task, but we came here to play well against them and show our skills,” said Zadran.
“We have lots of good T20 players, all our boys are playing good cricket, so I am sure they will play well.”
The cricketing minnows put up an impressive show in last year’s ODI World Cup in India with victories over England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands.
Zadran, a 22-year-old opening batsman, said fans’ added expectations will motivate the team to elevate their performance.
“Not only Afghanistan people are expecting lots of things, but all around the people are expecting [a] lot of things from us nowadays, because we played a wonderful World Cup,” he said.
Zadran said the team hoped to “play positive cricket and show our skills on the field”.