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The Financial Express

Where does Virat Kohli rank among the greatest Test captains?

| Updated: January 17, 2022 10:34:33


Photo: ESPNcricinfo Photo: ESPNcricinfo

Virat Kohli’s decision to step down as the captain of India’s Test team brings the curtains down on a memorable stint in India’s Test history which saw them rise from number seven in the Test rankings to the number one spot. 

The 7-year journey was marked by memorable victories on foreign soil,  dominance and the finest fleet of fast bowlers the country has ever seen.

So, where does Virat rank among some of the greatest captains of the game? 

Under his captaincy, India played 68 Test matches with a win-loss draw record of 40-17-11. 

Virat's win percentage of 58.8 per cent is higher than both his predecessors Dhoni (60 matches, win percentage - 45) and Ganguly (49 matches, win percentage - 42.85). 

In fact, Virat’s win percentage and the number of wins are the highest among all former permanent Indian Test captains. Under Kohli, India won 18 out of 24 Test series, losing only 5. 

Virat’s leadership and aggression imprinted on the whole team. It gave them a ‘Never say die attitude’ no matter who or where they played. This mentality helped them become the number one ranked Test team and made them stay there for 5 years.

Under Virat, India won all of its home Test series. Kohli is the first Asian captain to have won a Test series in Australia. 

With 7 wins, he is the most successful Asian captain in SENA conditions. He is also the first Indian captain to have managed to win 4 overseas Tests in a year.

Among all international Test captains, only Graeme Smith (53), Ricky Ponting (48) and Steve Waugh (41) have more Test wins than Kohli (40). 

Virat’s win-loss ratio of 2.352 is only bettered by Steve Waugh (4.55), Ricky Ponting (3) and Clive Lloyd (3). 

Among captains that led their side for 50 Tests, only 8 boast a win percentage of over 50. Virat finds himself in this group alongside Graeme Smith, Ponting, Waugh, Cronje, Mark Taylor, Sir Viv Richards and Vaughan.

Virat, the batsman also flourished during his captaincy. He averaged 54.8 in his 113 innings as Test captain, the highest among all international captains. 

His 7 double centuries is also the highest among all Test captains. Only Graeme Smith (25) has more centuries as captain than Kohli (20). 

Kohli’s impact in India’s bowling unit has also been phenomenal. Bowlers under his reign averaged 25.02 with the ball. 

No other Indian captain since 1990 had their bowling attack averaging less than 30. 

It meant that India’s bowlers had the skills to pick up 20 wickets in any venue, a condition that Kohli truly believed was important to win Test matches away from home. He prioritised pace bowling and made Indian seamers a potent threat worldwide.

But beyond the statistics, Virat’s impact on the longest format of the game is also profound. He loved this format and succeeded in making everyone love it as well. 

Enthralling Test wins in Australia, South Africa, England and the incredible fights India put up under Virat every time the team put on the white kits made everyone a fan of Virat’s Test captaincy. 

It didn’t matter who the opposition was or who the batter was, Virat celebrated each wicket with the utmost passion. 

In the age of T20 cricket, he has been vocal about how Test cricket is the best format of the sport. 

Hence, experts and pundits all over the world hail him as the best ambassador of Test cricket. Virat’s numbers as a captain and his impact on the longest format of the sport make him one of the best captains the game has ever seen.

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