India captain Virat Kohli has defended the selection of Rohit Sharma in the first Test, saying he was picked ahead of Ajinkya Rahane on current form.

“Well, we decided to go on current form. Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka,” said Kohli in the post-match media conference.

“These things can always be looked at in hindsight thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion,” added Kohli.

Rahane, who has not been among the runs of late, had a successful tour of South Africa four years ago. With 209 runs, he was third highest run-getter in the series behind Kohli (272 runs) and Cheteshwar Pujara (280).

South Africa captain Faf Du Plessis was also left surprised by the selection of Sharma over Rahane. Another surprise call, according to the South African skipper, was picking debutant Jasprit Bumrah ahead of seniors like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.

“We were surprised, yes,” said du Plessis in his post-match media interaction. “We didn’t think that Jasprit Bumrah would have played. We know that he’s done really well in one-day cricket but we were preparing more for the other seamers because they’ve played a lot of Tests.

“I think the other guy was Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane. He’s been in a bit of form one-day cricket wise so they’re probably just running with that, he said.

India lost the first Test by 72 runs with batting letting them down in both the innings.