Virat Kohli could play against Zimbabwe

The profile of India’s upcoming tour of Zimbabwe after an interval of six years could move up a notch higher with the likely presence of former captain Virat Kohli. It is learned the national selectors are keen that the star batter, searching for form, get back to action before the Asia Cup by competing in the three ODI matches in Zimbabwe to be played between August 18-22.

“There is still some time before the selectors meet. But the plan is to have Virat use the Zimbabwe series to regain batting touch in a format he is very good at,” a BCCI source said.

Other than Kohli, most of India’s main players will be giving the Zimbabwe series a miss. It is expected that Shikhar Dhawan, who is captaining India in the West Indies ODIs starting Friday, will continue to captain the side. Kohli was granted rest on his request from the 5 T20Is to be played in the West Indies where the selectors have picked a full-strength team. The former India skipper struggled to arrest his slump in form in the recent all-format series in England with only 31 runs in 2 innings of the Birmingham Test, 12 runs in 2 T20Is and 33 runs in 2 ODIs to show.

With questions asked of captain Rohit Sharma, he had publicly backed Kohli to return to form given his batting ‘quality’. The selectors too continue to see value in what Kohli could offer, once back at his best, despite concerns around his T20 batting tempo and strike rate.

Speaking on the ICC podcast on Wednesday, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting advocated that India stay with Kohli for the mega event. “I think if I was an opposition captain or an opposition player, I will be fearing playing an Indian team that has Virat Kohli in it, more than I would be one that doesn’t have him in it,” he said. “If I was India, I would keep pushing with him, because I know the upside. If they actually get him back confident and playing as well as he can, that upside is better than most.”

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