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The legacy of India’s most successful captain

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Last updated on 09 Dec 2021 | 08:50 AM
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The legacy of India’s most successful captain

A look at some of the highs and lows for India under the captaincy of Virat Kohli in ODIs

On the eve of 8th December 2021, India’s senior selection committee announced the 18-member squad led by Virat Kohli for the Test series in South Africa that is starting from 26th December 2021. At the bottom of the press release, there was one line stating that Rohit Sharma will take over the ODI captaincy from Virat Kohli. And just like that, Kohli, who led India in 95 ODIs, was sacked from the ODI captaincy.

The Delhiite led India as a full-time captain for over four years (since September 2017), in the white-ball format. Prior to his white-ball captaincy take-over from MS Dhoni, Kohli had already marshaled India in the red-ball format for three years since 2015.

Initially, the fear and the biggest question in each and every Indian fan’s mind was, can Kohli carry forward with the similar intent in his batting or does the added responsibility hamper it, just like how Sachin Tendulkar went through? But, the outcome exceeded the expectation, not only with the bat, but also as a captain of Team India. Eventually, with series wins in non-Asian conditions, Kohli went on to become one of the most successful captains for India across all-formats.

However, captaining the Indian team across all-formats and in the franchise league, took a lot out of him. Since 2018, across all formats in internationals, Kohli has led in 126 matches, no other captain has led more than 100. To add on to that, 58 matches of IPL, which is nearly 180+ matches in three years. Undeniably, a massive number! The more agonizing aspect, this affected his batting. A batsman who was hitting a century every 15.6 innings till 2019, hasn’t hit one across formats since 2020 (52 innings).

Now that Rohit has been handed the captaincy in both the white-ball formats, a burden on Kohli has been reduced. Nevertheless, Kohli’s numbers as Team India’s captain in ODIs are impeccable, not only for India, but among all captains as well. Here are a few of those records:

The away record that made Kohli the best

At the early stages, winning away matches was one of India’s biggest worries. However, as the time went by, gradually the records improved. But, since 2010, it has been at its best and under Kohli’s captaincy the numbers have been at the pinnacle. Since the start of 2010, India have played 116 ODIs in away conditions and have won 61 of those. Though Dhoni has led in most of those (56), Kohli’s record in 42 away ODIs (neutral not included) have been astounding. Kohli has a win/loss ratio of 2.636 in away conditions, among Indian captains who have led in 10+ away ODIs, the next best is Suresh Raina with 2.0. Let alone Indians, among captains with 25+ away ODIs, only Clive Llyod (3.100) has a better win/loss ratio than Kohli.

Overall in ODIs, Kohli’s win/loss ratio of 2.407 is the fourth best among all captains who have led their team in 50+ ODIs.

The only Asian captain to win a series in AUS, NZ & SA

In his illustrious career as the captain of India, a series win against South Africa in their backyard in 2018, stays as the summit of his achievements. Prior to this tour, India had travelled to South Africa six times in this format, let alone a win, they hadn’t even drawn a series until Kohli won it. That’s not it, in a span of one year, Kohli conquered South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in their backyard - the first Indian or an Asian captain to achieve this feat in ODIs.

A series winner

Under his captaincy, India played 19 bilateral ODI series, 10 away and nine at home. In those 19, Kohli lost only four. He had a series win percentage of 78.9, which is the best for a captain who has led his team in a series for more than 15 times. His four losses came against England in 2018 (Away), Australia in 2019 (Home), New Zealand in 2020 (Away) and Australia in 2020 (Away).

The come-back king

In bilateral series, playing at home or in away conditions, coming from behind to win a series takes a lot. Under Kohli’s captaincy, Team India has done it a number of times. In ODI’s, India have gone on to win a series from down under (Winning the series from being 1-0 in a three-match bilateral, 1-2 or 0-2 in a five-match bilateral series) 10 times. Out of the 10 times, Kohli has been the captain of India in four of those series. No other Indian captain has achieved this feat in more than two series. Sourav Ganguly had won a series twice from down under and Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma have achieved it once.   

A chink in last 45 ODIs after an apogee in first 50

The start to his captaincy career was exceptional, everything he touched turned into gold. In the first 50 matches as an ODI captain, Kohli won 39 matches and lost only 10 with a win percentage of 79.5 percent. His numbers in the first 50 were leveled with Ricky Ponting (79.5%) as the best win percentage. While he had a win percentage of 81.3 percent at home, his away record was impeccable as he had 91.3 percent of wins.

But, in the last 45 ODIs, the overall win percentage dipped to 59 percent, which is average. The away win record as well took a severe hit as it plummeted to 47.1 percent. Win percentage at home came down to 57.9 percent. 

Toss, the worst nightmare

Throughout his ODI career, there was a certain circular object that had a diameter of just one centimeter that Kohli couldn't conquer and that was the toss coin. It is a universally known fact that Kohli is one of the worst when it comes to winning the toss across all formats. In the ODIs, he lost 57.9 percent of the toss (55 out of 95). Among captains with 75+ ODIs, only Sir Viv Richards had a poorer ratio (59%). 

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