When was the last time India played a Test match without either of Virat Kohli, Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane?

India will be without the middle-order wall of Virat Kohli,
Image Source : GETTY India will be without the middle-order wall of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane

Former India captain Virat Kohli pulled out of the first two Tests against England due to personal reasons and the Rohit Sharma-led side has been left thinking about the combination the two-time World Test Championship finalists would want to play in the opener in Hyderabad starting January 25. With the selectors hitting the transition button, the veteran duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane too is not in the team and the hosts will be playing with a slightly inexperienced middle-order.

While KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have played a few Tests, however, the former started batting in the middle only in the last series and will be batting down the order for the first time in India. On the other hand, Iyer had a poor South Africa tour as far as Test matches are concerned but will be hopeful of making it count in India. India haven’t played a Test match without either of Virat Kohli, Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane for the longest time, in fact, more than 12 years.

The last time India played a Test match without either of the three players was the second game of the three-match series at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in November 2011 against the West Indies. India won the Test by an innings and 15 runs with the middle order featuring the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni with Kohli playing the third match of the series, which ended in a draw. The hosts won the series 2-0.

With no Kohli for the first two games, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and KS Bharat could form No. 3-6 for India at least for the series opener, even if the BCCI names a replacement. With Rahul set to play as a specialist batter, Bharat will get a chance to play a Test match and an opportunity to strengthen his place as the second wicketkeeper.