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News

Kohli, Pant exit Kolkata bubble; will be rested for Sri Lanka T20Is too

The decision to rest Kohli is understood to be part of a policy aimed at ensuring the all-format regulars are given breaks periodically

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
19-Feb-2022
Virat Kohli plays his first ODI after being removed as captain, South Africa vs India, 1st ODI, Paarl, January 19, 2022

Virat Kohli's break at this juncture is to ensure he is fresh for the two-Test series that follows the T20Is against Sri Lanka  •  AFP/Getty Images

Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant have been given a short break following India's T20I series win over West Indies in Kolkata with one game remaining. India's chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma confirmed later in the day that both will also be rested for the upcoming three T20Is against Sri Lanka starting February 24 in Lucknow. They will both return for the two Tests against Sri Lanka - the first of which will be Kohli's 100th - starting in Mohali on March 4 and Bengaluru on March 12.
"They have been rested for the last game against West Indies. We have already sent them home, so they can get more time to rest, on the advice of the medical staff," Sharma said. "They will be rested for the Sri Lanka T20I series."
Both Kohli and Pant left the Indian camp in Kolkata early on Saturday, after India won by eight runs on Friday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. Kohli was India's early enforcer, making 52, while Pant lent the finishing touches with Venkatesh Iyer in a blistering 76-run stand off just 35 balls. Pant also scored 52.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt the decision to rest Kohli and Pant is part of a policy that is being put in to ensure the all-format regulars are given breaks periodically. Pant's absence could allow some game time for one of Shreyas Iyer or Ruturaj Gaikwad, who have had to sit out of the T20Is so far owing to team combination. Ishan Kishan is expected to take over the wicketkeeping duties.
Meanwhile, Kohli's break at this juncture, in particular, is to ensure he is fresh for the two-Test series that follow the T20Is against Sri Lanka. He had earlier missed the Johannesburg Test in South Africa due to back spasms.
Kohli has for long underlined the need to ensure player workloads and mental health are factored in as teams move from one bubble to another. In 2020, he had spoken of the need for administrators to reconsider length of tours to make bio-bubble life sustainable.
"These things will have to be considered," he had said. "Like what length of the tournament or series one is going to play and what impact it will have on players mentally to stay in a similar environment for 80 days and not do anything different.
"Or have space to just go and see family or small things like that. These things have to be thought about seriously. At the end of the day, you want the players to be in the best state mentally, based on how they're feeling. Those conversations should take place regularly."
Kohli was earlier rested from the New Zealand T20Is and the first Test in November following a long four-month stretch that began with the tour of England and ended with the T20 World Cup in October-November, with the second installment of the IPL in UAE thrown in between.
The 2022 IPL is also set to begin 11 days after the scheduled end of the second Test against Sri Lanka, on March 16 in Bengaluru.
This copy was amended at 11.00 GMT after chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma gave additional details.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo