While the #2-ranked Test batsman's absence will certainly be a big blow to India's chances of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under, it could give someone else the opportunity to break into the team and make an impression.
Here are three players who could replace Virat Kohli in the Indian team for the Tests against Australia.
#1 Shubman Gill
The obvious choice for Ravi Shastri and co. would be to look to the future, and give Shubman Gill a chance to stake a claim for a regular spot in the playing XI.
Putting him in the firing line against Australia's world-class bowling attack could have an adverse effect on his fledgling career, especially if he registers a few low scores. But it could also be a big boost for the 21-year-old's confidence and self-belief.
Gill averages 73.55 in first-class cricket, and there is no reason why he cannot replicate the success his idol Virat Kohli has had on the international stage. He has been the best batsman for India A over the last couple of years, and can both open the innings and bat in the middle order.
There is no doubt that Gill is set for an illustrious career for India, and the Australia tour could be the perfect opportunity to kick-start it.
#2 KL Rahul
Few eyebrows were raised when KL Rahul was named in India's Test squad for the Australia series. While most fans didn't expect him to feature much, his chances will certainly be boosted due to Virat Kohli's absence.
Rahul's Test career so far has been a bit of a mixed bag. He averages 34.58 over 36 Test matches, and at times lacks the consistency required to make it at the top level. He scored just 57 runs in three Tests when India last toured Australia, and that could go against his hopes of replacing Virat Kohli in the line-up.
But after an impressive showing in the IPL, a case could be made for his recall into the side. While Kohli is India's best batsman, he is also their captain, and that leadership will certainly missed in his absence. Rahul captained the Kings XI Punjab during the 2020 IPL, and could somewhat plug that leadership hole both on and off the pitch.
#3 Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari has shown great talent and maturity in his short Test career so far, and he could be in line for a bigger role in the team in the absence of Virat Kohli.
Vihari's approach and technique have earned praise from Kohli and a number of other experts. And there is no reason why he cannot replicate the performances he displayed in the West Indies, where he scored 289 runs in the two-Test series.
Like Gill, Vihari can play both as an opener and in the middle order, although his best performances for both India and India A have come in the latter role. His throwback style and ability to bat for long periods could certainly prove to be useful in Australia.
Published 09 Nov 2020, 20:07 IST