Even as Virat Kohli's decision to skip Afghanistan Test and play county cricket is being met with mixed reactions, batting legend Sourav Ganguly has defended the Indian captain, saying the move only shows his eagerness to help the team do well on England tour.
Ganguly added Kohli would not have missed a Test if it were not for Afghanistan, the Asian minnows who are set to make their debut in the longest format of the game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on June 14.
Notably, Kohli had signed a deal with English county cricket side, Surrey, which will see the India captain playing three limited-overs and as many first-class matches in the month of June.
The 29-year-old Delhi batsman is keen on getting himself assimilated to the English conditions, in which he struggled (134 runs at 13.4) during India's tour of England in 2014.
"I think since the side is Afghanistan, he has chosen to play county. If it would have been any other team, he would have not gone. It just shows how important the England tour is for him. I have always maintained, a captain's recognition is how well he and his team does overseas," Ganguly said, as quoted by IANS.
"Virat Kohli as a batsman, there is no question. As a captain, he wants to win so that is the reason [he has gone to play county cricket]. India will still beat Afghanistan without Virat Kohli. And hopefully, they can do well in England."
Kohli missing Afghanistan Test for a 'good cause'
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was reportedly against Kohli skipping the Afghanistan Test.
However, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators were keen on letting Test specialists get some match practice under the belt before the much-anticipated England tour, consisting three T20Is, as many ODIs and five Tests between July 3 and September 11.
Nonetheless, the BCCI selection committee chairman MSK Prasad urged critics to understand Kohli's decision when they named the India squads for the Afghanistan Test and the England tour in Bengaluru on Tuesday, May 8.
"Except Virat, the test specialists are playing the match [Test against Afghanistan]. It's only Virat who is missing out for a good cause," Prasad told the media.
"He is going out so that he comes well prepared for the England tour. It's always good he goes there and performs well. He is keen on performing well on English conditions. He wants the team to do well there as well."
Rohit Sharma likely to lead India against Ireland
Meanwhile, Kohli will also miss the first of the two-match T20I series against Ireland, scheduled for June 27 as will be playing for Surrey against Yorkshire at Scarborough in the Specsavers County Championships match between June 25 and 28.
While the BCCI had announced Kohli as captain for both the T20I matches against Ireland, Rohit Sharma is likely to lead the team in the first T20I.