Virat Kohli put the birth of his first child before cricket. That sends a strong message to Indian men about fatherhood

Virat Kohli during the Fourth Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 6, 2019, in Sydney, Australia.

New Delhi (CNN)In 2015, India's then cricket captain MS Dhoni discovered he had become a father for the first time -- via text message.

Dhoni had skipped the birth of his daughter to compete in the World Cup in Australia, saying: "I am on national duties, so I think everything else can wait."
Five years later, the same dilemma faces another Indian cricket captain. Only this time Virat Kohli has put his family before his profession.
    Kohli announced last month he will quit an important Test series between arch-rivals India and Australia midway in late December to take paternity leave. He is expecting his first child with his Bollywood actor wife, Anushka Sharma, in January.
      India's captain Virat Kohli and his wife, Anushka Sharma,  in Sydney on January 7, 2019.
      "It is a very, very special and a very, very beautiful moment in our lives and something that I truly want to experience," the Indian captain said. Kohli said his decision was influenced by the fact he would have to quarantine in both countries -- meaning if his child was born while he was abroad, he wouldn't immediately be able to fly home and be with his family.
      In cricket-mad India, players are revered almost as demigods, often facing unforgiving expectations. After big losses, their homes have been attacked, effigies of them burned, and their families threatened.
      MS Dhoni during game five in the One Day International series between New Zealand and India at Westpac Stadium on February 3, 2019, in Wellington, New Zealand.
      Kohli's decision to put his family over cricket evoked mixed reactions.
        Harsha Bhogle, a well-known cricket commentator, for example, tweeted that the captain's absence would make the tournament tougher for team India, but hailed Kohli's decision. "There is more to life than just his profession," he said.
        Rajdeep Sardesai, author of "Democracy's XI -- The Great Indian Cricket Story," believes Kohli's decision could set a precedent for men across India wanting to take paternity leave.
        "It encourages others who otherwise might have thought twice or might be constrained by the social environment in which they live, to break free," he says.

        Where India stands on parental leave

        In 2017, India's Maternity Amendment Bill increased the right to paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks -- more generous than the leave new mothers are granted in the US or France, for example.
        But, while central government employees are entitled to 15 days of paternity leave, there is no national law mandating leave for new fathers.
        Minu Dwivedi, a partner at J. Sagar Associates, a leading national law firm in India, says some companies are taking it upon themselves to offer paid paternity leave to keep in line with global best practices. Last year, for example, Indian restaurant aggregator and food delivery start-up Zomato announced 26 weeks of paid leave to all n