Kohli surprised the cricket fraternity by quitting Test captaincy on Saturday evening, a day after losing the Test series in South Africa 1-2 to draw the curtains on a successful seven-year reign.
Gavaskar said he preferred Pant as he is an automatic choice for selectors across all formats of the game.
“It’s going to be quite a debate as far as the selection committee is concerned as to who should be taking Indian cricket forward. First of all, it should be someone who is an automatic pick across all formats of the game. Once that happens, it will be a lot easier,” Gavaskar told India Today.
“If you ask me, I am still staying, I would look at Rishabh Pant as next India captain.
“For one reason only, just like Rohit Sharma was given the captaincy of Mumbai Indians when Ricky Ponting stepped down, look at the change in his batting after that. Suddenly the responsibility of being captain made him convert those beautiful cameos of 30s, 40s and 50s into hundreds, 150s and 200s.
“I think that sense of responsibility given to Rishabh Pant will help him score many more of that wonderful hundred he scored at Newlands,” he added.
Further explaining the rationale behind his pick, Gavaskar cited the example of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, who achieved great success after taking over the captaincy at a very young age.
“Yes, I am saying that. Tiger Pataudi was captain at the age of 21 under adverse circumstances when Nari Contractor was injured. Look what he did after that. He took to captaincy like a duck to water.
“I think what we have seen with Rishabh Pant as the captain of Delhi Capitals in the IPL, I do believe he has the capability of taking Indian cricket forward and making it a very exciting team to watch,” he said.
Limited-overs skipper Rohit Sharma has emerged as the front-runner to take over Test captaincy from Kohli although he was not part of the South Africa series due to an injury. Rohit was recently made Test vice-captain, replacing Ajinkya Rahane.
In Rohit’s absence, KL Rahul was Kohli’s deputy in South Africa.