Is Virat Kohli a better captain than other previous Indian cricket captains?

Do you often wonder how does VIrat Kohli, the present captain of the team stand against his predecessors? If yes, then read on to know why this young batsman, compares with the best.

As a batsman, Virat Kohli is no newcomer to comparisons. The top order batsman has constantly been compared to Sachin Tendulkar for his on-field aggression, versatility and consistency while similar parallels have also been drawn with contemporaries like Joe Root, Ken Williamson, Rohit Sharma, et al. Kohli, the leader, has also been under the scanner and often pitted against his predecessors in terms of team win percentage and personal contributions. Although such comparisons are unruly and uncalled for, the legacy of Virat shines bright, as he continues to lead the men in blue to victories match after match, series after series and season after season.

Now the million dollar question is – whether Virat’s achievements outshine the exploits of his predecessors. This is a tricky proposition, as different leaders adopt a different approach to the game, different set of issues to contend with and an entirely different team composition. With cricket being a rapidly evolving world where changes are rampant and instantaneous, the comparison gets subjective, allowing everyone to take his own pick and justify the same conveniently. However, you cannot discount stats, even if they do not reveal the complete picture, because they quantify an individual’s performance over a period. Putting things in context, here is a track record of few captains who led India at different points in time.

Table 01: Test Captaincy Record

Serial No.

Captains

Duration

Matches

Won

Lost

Draw

Win %

Loss %

Nawab of Pataudi

1962 to 1975

40

09

19

12

22.50

47.50

Sunil Gavaskar

1976 to 1985

47

09

8

30

19.14

17.02

Mohd.

Azharuddin

1990 to 1999

47

14

14

19

29.78

29.78

Sachin Tendulkar

1996 to 2000

25

04

9

12

16.00

36.00

Saurav Ganguly

2000 to 2005

49

21

13

15

42.85

26.53

Rahul Dravid

2003 to 2007

25

08

06

11

32.00

24.00

Anil Kumble

2007 to 2008

14

03

05

06

21.42

35.71

8.

MS Dhoni

2008 to 2014

60

27

18

15

45.00

30.00

9.

Virat Kohli

2014 to present

35

21

05

09

60.00

14.28

Table 02: ODI Captaincy record:

Serial No.

Captains

Duration

Matches

Won

Lost

No Result

Win %

1

Sunil Gavaskar

1980 to 1985

37

14

21

02

40.00

2

Kapil Dev

1982 to 1987

74

39

33

02

54.16

3

Ravi Shastri

1987 to 1991

11

04

07

00

36.36

4

Dalip Vengsarkar

1987 to 1989

18

08

10

00

44.44

5

Mohd. Azharuddin

1990 to 1999

174

90

76

06

54.16

6

Saurav Ganguly

1999 to 2005

146

76

65

05

53.90

7

Rahul Dravid

2000 to 2007

79

42

33

04

56.00

8

MS Dhoni

2007 to 2016

199

110

74

11

59.57

9

Virat Kohli

2013 to 2018

52

39

12

01

76.47

Table 03: T20I Captaincy Record:

Serial No.

Captains

Duration

Matches

Won

Lost

No Result

Win %

1

MS Dhoni

2007 to 2016

72

41

28

02

59.28

2

Suresh Riana

2010 to 2011

03

03

00

00

100.00

3

Rohit Sharma

2017 to 2018

09

08

01

00

88.88

4

Virat Kohli

2017 to 2018

17

11

06

00

64.70

Statically, Captain Kohli is the outright winner, grossing up a higher number of win percentage across all formats vis-a-vis any other captain in the history of Indian cricket. In fact, Kohli also steals a march over all counterparts in world cricket with a win percentage of 72.22 in 60 ODI games. However, stats can be misleading at times, as they reveal less and hide more. No denying the fact that Kohli has led his men exceptionally well and is likely to continue doing so in future too but he has a few luxuries that former skippers could ill afford.

Indians were considered pushovers with nothing to write home about in terms of performance. However, Nawab Pataudi changed the perception and the status quo with his leadership, aggressive approach and exceptional exploits on the field. Tiger Pataudi could look at his English and Australian counterparts in the eye while his predecessors were weighed down by the spectre of the colonial era. Team India continued to perform well, particularly in tailored home conditions, under his leadership. However, the epoch-making event in ODI came when Kapil Dev took the reins of the team and led India to a historic World Cup victory in 1983.

Saurav Ganguly inherited a disturbed legacy with allegations of match-fixing ruining the team morale and unprofessional practice rampant in the dressing room. He teamed up with Coach John Right to create an upward trajectory for the team and get it to winning ways. His successor, not his immediate one though, MS Dhoni built on the legacy and gave India a trio of ICC event wins – ODI WC, Champions Trophy and T20I WC, which still stands as one of a kind feat in Cricket history. Kohli inherited a well-balanced unit with exceptional batsmen, quality bowlers and unrivalled bench strength that make life easier for the skipper.

Virat has the charm and charisma of Nawab Pataudi, never say die attitude of Kapil and a focus of Dhoni. He has the power of conviction, peer respect, clear vision and the ability to see the bigger picture, make hard choices and extract the best out of his team – the true hallmark of a leader. These are early days for Virat and comparisons with former team leaders are untimely if not grossly inappropriate. However, what little he has delivered in his short yet eventful journey as a skipper is good enough to inspire hopes for big things in the future.

Sarmad

Sarmad is a cricket enthusiast who loves to observe each match keenly. He is an editor and a regular contributor for Golden Jeeto. Apart from this, Sarmad loves to explore and read about Human Psychology and that is why he provides the prediction for upcoming matches too. He feels excited to share his review, prediction and feedback with sports lovers.

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