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Dress rehearsal for T20 WC

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Spotlight on Rohit Sharma after Kohli pulls out of first T20I

Mohali, Jan 10: The spotlight will be only on the returning Rohit Sharma as his long-time colleague Virat Kohli pulled out of the opening T20I against Afghanistan due to “personal reasons” ahead of the first ever white-ball series between the two teams, beginning here on Thursday.
Kohli, though, will be available for the second and third T20 International.
India head coach Rahul Dravid attributed Kohli’s pull-out to “family reasons” before he addressed media.
Both the stalwarts are returning to the shortest format after 14 months and will be keenly observed in the three-match rubber, which will be India’s last before the T20 World Cup in June, giving the team more clarity on where it stands ahead of the ICC event in Americas.
However, the final 15 will be picked on the basis of core group’s performance in the IPL, which precedes the World Cup.
Dravid said Rohit will open the batting with young Yashasvi Jaiswal against Afghanistan.
Rohit and Kohli, after he returns, are a certainty in this squad but the accomplished duo would first like to get the most out of the games against Afghanistan, who would be without their star spinner Rashid Khan.
Khan underwent a back surgery in November last year and is still recuperating.“He is not totally fit. We will miss him in the series. We will struggle without Rashid but one should be ready for any kind of situation,” Afghanistan captain Ibrahim Zadran said on the eve of the series-opener, hoping that others in the side would step up.The focus, however, will firmly be on Rohit, easily among the biggest crowd-puller. His presence on the field would be a big reason for the Mohali crowd to brave the prevailing cold wave.
Rohit, who will also captain the side, will be expected to carry on with his ultra aggressive approach in the powerplay like he showed in the ODI World Cup.
The team, having returned from South Africa last week, only assembled on Wednesday evening for the series.
The likes of Jaiswal and Tilak Varma remain in the squad after performing top-order duties in the drawn series against South Africa, and so is Shubman Gill.
Across formats, Gill did not have the easiest of times in the Rainbow nation and will be looking to pile on the runs against Afghanistan with the others breathing down his neck. (PTI)

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