Former India coach Ravi Shastri has expressed surprise that Jasprit Bumrah and not Virat Kohli took over the India captaincy in the fifth Test match against England last year, after an injury to regular captain Rohit Sharma.

Bumrah made his captaincy debut in the game which India lost by seven wickets. Kohli had been at the helm in the four previous matches in the series in 2021, where India had taken a 2-1 lead before the final match was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the India camp.

However, when the side returned to England a year later for the last Test, India’s Test captaincy had changed hands with Rohit Sharma taking over the captaincy role. Kohli had resigned following the series defeat in South Africa at the start of the year. The side also had a new head coach for the fifth England Test, Rahul Dravid succeeding Shastri, who had stepped down following the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE.

But, Rohit was absent for the final Test in England after testing positive for Covid-19 while KL Rahul, who led India in the second South Africa Test, was also unavailable. Ajinkya Rahane, who oversaw the second half India’s series win in Australia in 2021, was not picked in the squad. That left India with limited captaincy choices.

Despite Kohli in the XI, India decided to hand over the captaincy duties to Bumrah for the very first time. However, England won the match by seven wickets thanks to centuries from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root which saw England chase down 378 in the fourth innings.

The defeat, which ensured the series ended 2-2, raised question marks over Bumrah’s appointment over Kohli. Shastri too remains surprised over the decision, and says the Kohli would have got the best out of his teammates.

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo he said, “I thought he would [captain India in the Test]. Rohit was injured [out due to Covid-19], I thought he would be asked. If I was still there – I’m sure Rahul might have done the same thing [ask Kohli to lead India] – I don’t know, I’ve not spoken to him. I would have recommended to the board that it was only fair he leads because he’s part of a team that’s leading 2-1 in the series, and probably could have got the best out of them.”

On being asked if Kohli would have led India if he had been given a chance, Shastri said, “It’s an honour leading your country. These are circumstances where you got to put your best foot forward. Your regular captain is injured, he’s not part of the team – so seeing what’s at stake, beating England in England, 2-1 up…”