Jasprit Bumrah backs Virat Kohli to play 'immense' role in Tests

Fast bowler open to leading India's red-ball side after star batsman's sudden decision to quit as captain

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Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah said former India captain Virat Kohli still has a big role to play in Test cricket after his surprise resignation in the wake of the 2-1 series defeat to South Africa last week.

Kohli, 33, stepped down from the Test captaincy on Saturday, ending his leadership roles across formats within a span of a few months. With the sudden vaccuum at the top, a number of names have emerged as long-term captaincy candidates. Rohit Sharma is the most likely to take over the team, but KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant and even Bumrah are being seen as possible leaders.

Bumrah, who is vice-captain of the ODI side under new skipper Rahul, praised the contribution of Kohli, and said he remains a key figure in Indian cricket.

"Virat told us about leaving his Test captaincy in a team meeting. We congratulated him on what he had achieved with the side," Bumrah said on Monday.

"It's his decision. He knows his body. He knows his frame of mind. We respect that and it's been a pleasure to play under his captaincy.

"He brought in energy. He brought in the fitness culture. He was driven. Everybody moved in one direction under his leadership. He has been immense, and he will still be immense with his inputs."

Kohli resigned as T20 captain in September, citing the need to concentrate on his Test and ODI leadership roles. But just months later he no longer holds those positions having been axed as skipper in the 50-over format.

Bumrah said he would love to take on the role of Test captain if asked.

"If given an opportunity, it will be an honour," he said. "I don't think any player would say no and I am no different. Be it a leadership group or any responsibility, I always look to contribute to the best of my abilities.

"I look at this situation in the same manner, not to take any extra pressure that I would have to be over-cautious.

"Yes, taking responsibility, talking to a lot of players, trying to help them out in the best way possible has always been my approach and will be my approach going forward in any situation that comes."

Meanwhile, former captain Kapil Dev said Kohli will need to shed his ego to play under a new leader.

Dev, who led India to glory in the 1983 World Cup, welcomed Kohli's decision, saying he was "going through a rough time" and "appeared to be under a lot of pressure".

But he said that Kohli will now have to knuckle down and bite his tongue if he is to remain in the team under a new captain.

"Even Sunil Gavaskar played under me. I played under K Srikkanth and [Mohammad] Azharuddin. I had no ego," Dev said.

"Virat will have to give up his ego and play under a young cricketer. This will help him and Indian cricket. Virat should guide the new captain, new players. We cannot lose Virat, the batsman... no way."

Updated: January 17, 2022, 5:41 PM
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