Injured Virat Kohli’s landmark 100th Test now likely to be in Bengaluru

A back injury has forced Virat Kohli out of the second Test against South Africa at Johannesburg, with KL Rahul leading India in his absence.

TV cameras captured Kohli, before the start of the match on Monday, the India captain sporting a smile and gesturing to his teammates that he wouldn’t be able to make it.

“Unfortunately Virat has an upper back spasm. Physios are working on him. Hopefully, he will be OK by next Test,” stand-in skipper Rahul told the host broadcaster after winning the toss.

Kohli, with 98 Test matches under his belt, was set to play his 100th Test at Cape Town, the venue for the third match, before the injury struck.

On Sunday, when the Indian team head coach Rahul Dravid was asked about the captain’s absence in pre-match pressers, he had said: “He (Kohli) is going to play his 100th Test in Cape Town. And the guys (BCCI’s in-house media team) told me they have held him back for that. He will come before his 100th Test and hopefully badi dhoom dham se aap log celebrate karange (you will celebrate with gusto). Badi doom dham se aap unko sawal puch sakte hai 100th Test match ke bare mein (with gusto you can ask him questions about his 100th Test).”

India’s next Test series will be at home against Sri Lanka, a two-match assignment during which Kohli is expected to play his landmark 100th game. The first Test is scheduled to be held in Bengaluru from February 25, a venue which is Kohli’s second home because of his long stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Dravid had also hailed Kohli’s leadership qualities as “phenomenal”, crediting him to shut out the “outside noise” in the lead-up to the Test series.

Kohli has chronic back issues. Several times in the past he was seen taking on-field treatment as well. Without him, India will be bereft of their best batsman on a Wanderers pitch that is likely to assist fast bowlers. India are currently leading 1-0 in the three-Test series.

Rahul was promoted to Test vice-captaincy after a left hamstring injury ruled Rohit Sharma out of the tour. Just six months ago the opener returned to the Test fold after a gap of two years and now he has the honour to lead the team.

“Every Indian player dreams to captain his country. Really looking forward to this. We will look to put some runs on the board and put the opposition under pressure” Rahul said, adding: “Hanuma Vihari comes in for Virat. No other change.”

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