Virat Kohli’s decision to quit Test captaincy needs to be respected, said India’s stand-in ODI vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah, who believes that the former skipper would continue to be a “leader in the group”.

Bumrah, who was asked if harbors hopes of being the captain one day in the future, also said it would be an honour to do so if given the opportunity. With Kohli’s captaincy tenure in all formats coming to an end following his resignation from Test leadership, there are questions about who could be his long-term successor considering that Rohit Sharma will be 35 next year.

Bumrah has been appointed as the vice-captain for the ODI series after Rohit’s unavailability saw KL Rahul elevated to the post of captain and he said taking responsibility and helping teammates comes naturally to him.

“If given an opportunity, it will be an honour,” he said when asked about captaincy specifically. “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.”

The India pace spearhead believes that there would be no tangible change in his role although he is the vice-captain now.

“Having post or not doesn’t matter. I always focus on how I can contribute. For me, the role doesn’t change at all. I have to do my job first, isn’t it? Trying to contribute as much as I can and then helping KL if he needs any assistance on the field and sharing a bowler’s mindset on what kind of fields you can keep that I always look to do,” Bumrah said.

“Even when I am not vice-captain, I try to talk to some of the younger guys, have a lot of discussions on what kind of fields that need to be set and the same role I will try to do that again as well. No specific role or added pressure I am going to take. Yes, helping KL in any way possible and trying to keep a calm head.”

He later added that he would like to help out younger players in the set-up if they had any questions.

“When I was new, I used to ask a lot of questions to seniors. Now I am in a transition phase and when youngsters ask me something, I try to share my experience with them. Sometimes their inputs can help me as well. We try to make sure such communication is always there in the team because sometimes someone new can have some observation from outside which you cannot have from inside,” he added.

On Saturday, Kohli announced his decision to step down via social media, a day after India lost a three-match Test series 1-2 to the weakest South African side in recent times.

When asked how Kohli informed the team, the normally reticent Bumrah said that the star batter called a meeting to announce his decision to quit.

“Obviously, as a team unit, we are closer, so we came to know earlier, that he would step down from Test captaincy and we respect his decision and valued his leadership. We congratulated him for his contribution as a leader, we wished him all the best. That was about it.”

Asked how he sees this decision, Bumrah said he wouldn’t want to comment on a personal call.

“I am no one to sit in judgement of his decision. It’s a personal decision and we respect his decision. He knows how his body is reacting and what frame of mind he is in. It’s been an immense pleasure to play under his captaincy and I made my Test debut under him. As I have spoken earlier also that he (Kohli) will always be a leader in the group and his contribution has been immense and will be immense,” the pacer added.

So what has been the biggest takeaways from Kohli’s captaincy?

“He has been leader of the team. He brought the fitness culture and everybody got fitter as a team and his contribution has been immense,” he said. “He has been a very important leader in the group and captain for such a long period of time. His knowledge will be used by us and as a team, his contribution and suggestions will always be important. We have always looked up to him and it will be same going further as well.”

With a new coach, new captain (or captains), within a quick span, the Indian team has entered a phase of transition across formats but it is something that doesn’t faze Bumrah.

“I can’t speak for everyone but for me, I can say all these changes don’t really make a lot of difference. We all are here to help in however way we can, and I think that’s the way all the players are responding to the changes that are happening as well.

“Everybody is respectful, and they understand how the processes are going. Change is the only constant. I don’t think anybody is facing a problem or is in a weird space with the changes that are happening. Everybody understands the changes, everybody has played enough cricket to understand that this is the way the game goes and this is how you have to move forward. So everyone in the team is quite positive and quite eager to contribute and go about the changes.”

Bumrah also expected Mohammed Siraj, who missed the final Test of the recently concluded series due to a hamstring injury, to be fit.

“I think he is fine, he is practicing with us. I do not see any discomfort, hopefully that stays that way. Nothing I am aware of right now but everyone seems to be okay. Hopefully, that stays that way,” Bumrah said.

The ODI series begins in Paarl on Wednesday.

With PTI inputs.