A neck injury has dashed Virat Kohli’s hopes of a maiden County stint with Surrey to prepare for the England Test series starting on August 1. The cricket Board said on Thursday that the Indian skipper hurt himself on May 17, during Royal Challengers Bangalore’s win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bangalore.
The BCCI said in a statement on Thursday that Kohli was assessed by the BCCI medical team and a specialist. He then underwent scans. Kohli will have rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore and undergo a fitness test on June 15. The BCCI is confident that Kohli will be fit to lead in the high-profile Test series in England (Aug 1-Sept 11).
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The BCCI though leaves many questions unanswered. Kohli’s personal coach, Raj Kumar Sharma, said ‘it is not very serious’, and said reports of a possible slipped disc were “rubbish”. But Saba Karim, BCCI GM (cricket operations) was unwilling to say what the injury exactly was. “Details are with the BCCI physio, but not sure they would like to share with the media.”
The timing of the injury is not explained. Kohli played another game for RCB, against Rajasthan Royals, two days later in Jaipur. He was on the field and even put in acrobatic stops. When asked, Karim said: “We come into the picture only when a cricketer plays for the country,” leaving the onus on RCB management.
A senior BCCI office-bearer questioned the injury-management protocol under the Committee of Administration that runs the Board. He pointed out that Kohli, under criticism for not leading India in Afghanistan’s inaugural Test starting in Bangalore on June 14, will undergo the fitness test at the same venue a day after the historic game starts.
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News of Kohli’s injury also comes a day after he posted a video working out in the gym, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others to join in the fitness challenge initiated by sports minister, RVS Rathore.
It will be a big disappointment for fans keen to watch cricket’s biggest star turn out for Surrey. Kohli’s second injury break – a shoulder injury while fielding in the Ranchi Test versus Australia last year, sidelined him for most of the 2017 IPL.
The latest injury also raises concerns whether Kohli needs to manage workload better, adding to the debate over the strain of playing all three formats.
Kohli’s 2014 England tour was a disaster. He averaged less than 14, after swing got him early on.
Former India spinner Maninder Singh felt not playing for Surrey won’t be a big setback. “He’ll manage. He is not the old Virat though had he played, it would have improved his confidence.”
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And MS Dhoni’s retirement late 2014 and focus on shorter formats have given players a choice when it came to take a call. “Let’s be practical about the decisions players take. The real security is money, and we must respect their decision (on quitting Tests and playing only T20 franchise cricket),” said Maninder.