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Shastri: India should 'look in direction' of giving Kohli captaincy when Rohit is unavailable

Says he would have suggested Kohli's name as captain when Rohit was unavailable for the fifth Test against England last year

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Ravi Shastri, the former India coach, would love to see Virat Kohli captaining India again should there be a need to step in, like there was last year when Rohit Sharma wasn't available for the final Test of the England tour at Edgbaston.
Kohli was India's Test captain during that tour of England in the summer of 2021. But when the final Test of that series took place in the summer of 2022, after the Covid-19 outbreak within the camp postponed it by a year, Kohli had resigned as Test captain under acrimonious circumstances, with Rohit taking over.
However, Rohit's unavailability for that one-off game forced the team management to pick another captain. According to Shastri, Kohli should have been the obvious choice given he had led the team in the first four Tests, but India handed a captaincy debut to Jasprit Bumrah.
"Once Rohit was injured, I thought Virat would captain," Shastri told ESPNcricinfo on the Ravi & Raunak show. "If I was still there - I'm sure Rahul [Dravid] might have done the same thing, I have not spoken to him - I would've recommended to the board that it's only fair he leads because he was captain of the team that was leading 2-1 in the series and probably could have got the best [out of the team]."
Kohli is currently leading Royal Challengers Bangalore as a stand-in captain at IPL 2023 as Faf du Plessis nurses a rib injury that has limited his participation only as a batter. Kohli has embraced leadership again, insisting it's "nothing I'm not used to".
Does Shastri want Kohli to take over the top job should circumstances arise again, say for the WTC final? "If it's for a major game like that, I want Rohit to be fit, he is the captain. But god forbid something happens under unforeseen circumstances, definitely I'll look in that direction."
Shastri said Kohli was looking "damn chilled" and "relaxed" at IPL 2023. He currently sits second on the run charts behind du Plessis.
"He's in a very good space, enjoying his cricket," Shastri said. "That's the feeling I got as opposed to the last year when we were sitting and discussing does he need a break, does he not need a break. He seemed to have the burden of the whole world on his shoulders.
"Now it's refreshing. the enthusiasm, passionate energy and enjoyment have come back, which for me was the best thing to see. Runs you might or might not get but when you see someone, and the passion, enjoyment and drive is back again, it's good."

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo