Cricket is no less than a religion in 1.2 billion country which avidly follows this sport and has managed to polarize opinions across different age groups like no other game. Over the years, the gentlemen’s game has only evolved and has witnessed a variety of changes that has affected the pattern of play.
However, despite the advancement of the sport, cricket’s most traditional form – the Test format has still somehow restored the old charm and sanctity which makes it a fair battle between the bat and the bowl. The most challenging format for a player – Test cricket is often seen as the ultimate litmus test of a cricketer’s skills and talent.
Similarly, leading a side in Test cricket while representing your nation is also a matter of great pride and a sense of achievement. Especially, in a country like India, being the skipper you are bound to draw a lot of attention and fanfare from the crowd and media. Every decision and move will come under scanner no matter what the situation is. So far, India has played 499 Test matches and there are 32 cricketers who have captained the Indian cricket team in whites for at least one match. From India’s first test skipper C.K.Naydu to Nawab Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar to Mohammad Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly to the current Indian skipper Virat Kohli – these are the few renowned names who got the chance to lead India in Test cricket.
In this article, we will talk about the India’s most famous and successful Test captains who helped the team in attaining new heights at the international level over the last five decades.
Untill Sachin Tendulkar broke into the scene, Sunil Gavaskar was touted as India’s greatest ever batsman. However, he is still remembered as one of the greatest opening batsmen all time who demolished some of the most fearsome bowling attacks of his era.
A thorough professional who led by example, Gavaskar made India a force to reckon with in the cricket’s most challenging format. He captained India in 47 Test matches (1976-1985). During his tenure, India won nine Test matches which included victories against teams like West Indies, Australia, England, Pakistan and New Zealand. India managed to draw 30 matches under his captaincy which was in itself a great achievement. While acting as skipper, Sunil Gavaskar has scored 3449 runs whichis the highest by any Indian player. He also holds the record for the highest number of centuries while playing as captain (11).
Whenever there will be a discussion on the most successful Indian captains – Mohammad Azharuddin’s name will automatically find its wayin the illustrious list. Just like his captaincy, Azhar was equally impressive with the bat and belonged to the league of greats who carved their own niche in the art of batsmanship. He announced his arrival in Test cricket with a magnificent hundred on his debut match against England in 1984-85, he followed it up with two more centuries in the next two matches. His record of three hundred in his first three Tests is a feat that has never been matched so far.
Azharuddin captained India for 9 years, in which they managed to win 14 matches and lose the same number of games. India played 19 draws (1990-1999) under Azhar’s captaincy. Though, most of the wins came on the spin friendly sub-continent wickets which assisted the slow bowlers.
Famously known as Dada, Sourav Ganguly is one such name whose value and contribution as a skipper simply hard to measure in terms of statistics and milestones. In fact, the numbers itself can never do the justice to Ganguly’s repertoire in Indian cricket which took some huge strides in the international arena under his leadership. A fine left-handed batsman, Sourav was a treat to watch for every cricket lover when in full flow. His range of shots mixed with surgical precision in his strokeplay and the dominance in the off-side aptly summed up Ganguly’s ability with the willow.
As a captain, Sourav Ganguly’s record in Test cricket is undoubtedly inspiring. The Bengal Tiger led India in 49 Test matches (2000-2005) and registered 21 victories with a better win/loss record as compared to the former greats. Till date, Ganguly is the most successful Indian Test captain with 11 wins in the overseas conditions. Under his leadership, India defeated their arch-rivals Pakistan in their own backyard. Above all, he instilled a sense of beliefin the young side and turned them into world beaters and a fearless unit.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
The ‘Man with the Midas touch’ – MS Dhoni is by far the most successful Indian Test captain with 27 wins in 60 test matches (2008-2014). Born with natural leadership skills and instinctive ability to make crucial decisions, Dhoni’s legacy in Indian cricket is hard to match or even compare. India won matches in New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies during his tenure. His tryst with Indian cricket is probably the best thing to have happened for the nation who eat and sleeps ‘Cricket’ as a sport.
One of the best all-time ODI batsmen, MS achieved success in all forms of cricket with his homemade batting technique and lightning fast reflexes that set him apart from his contemporaries. Under his captaincy, India achieved several feats including the No.1 test ranking and the top prize in ODI and T20 formats.
Feisty, aggressive and a typical modern-day cricketer – Virat Kohli is the poster boy of Indian cricket who loves to wear his emotions on his sleeve and take immense pride in leading the country at the top level. Currently, the lynchpin of Indian batting unit – Virat’s transformation as a player in all the three forms of the game is simply commendable.
So far, Kohli has led India in 14 Tests, winning 7, losing 2 and drawing 5. South Africa’s 3-0 drubbing in thefour Test series is one of the highlights of his short captaincy career. Also, he is the youngest Indian captain to win a Test series abroad when they toured Sri Lanka. He further led India to register victories in 2 matches in West Indies which is achieved by no other skipper.
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