Virat Kohli was the most successful captain in India by win percentage before he relinquished captaincy from all formats earlier in 2022. However, no one comes closer to MS Dhoni when it comes to winning titles.
Let’s delve into the captaincy records of India’s top five captains.
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Most successful captain in India: Top 10 by win percentage
Virat Kohli – 63.38 win percentage in 213 matches
Despite not winning any ICC trophy, Virat Kohli is the most successful captain in India, with an overall win percentage of 63.38. Under the aggressive skipper, India won 65 of 95 ODIs, 30 of 50 T20Is and 39 of 66 Tests. With 39 wins in Test matches, Kohli is India’s most successful Test captain. He’s followed by MS Dhoni with 27 Test wins as captain. He took over the captaincy from MS Dhoni in 2014, when the team ranked seventh in the ICC Test rankings. When Kohli announced his retirement, India was at the top of the rankings. Team India has never lost a Test series on home soil (11 wins in 11 Tests) under their most successful Test skipper. Kohli has also scored the most Test centuries for India as captain (20) and is overall only behind Graeme Smith (25).
In ODIs, Kohli is the fourth most successful ODI Indian captain after the likes of MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, and Mohammed Azharuddin. He led India to a bilateral ODI series win in Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe. As a batsman who was also the captain, Kohli scored 5449 runs in 91 innings at an average of 72.65, which includes 21 tons. Only Ricky Ponting (22) has more ODI centuries as captain than Kohli.
In the shortest format, Kohli is the second-most successful Indian captain with 30 wins. MS Dhoni tops the list with 42 T20I wins as Indian captain. Kohli is the only Indian captain to win a T20I bilateral series in all SENA nations and also holds the record for scoring the fastest 1000 T20I runs as captain.
MS Dhoni – 53.61 win percentage in 332 matches
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the second most successful captain with a win percentage of 53.61. The only captain to win three ICC Trophies – T20 World Cup 2007, ODI World Cup 2011 and Champions Trophy 2013, Dhoni is considered India and the world’s greatest white-ball captain. Besides the three elusive ICC Trophies, India also won five other multi-national series under Dhoni’s captaincy.
In Test cricket, Dhoni is India’s second-most successful captain after Kohli, leading the side to 27 wins in 60 games. India reached the top spot in ICC Test rankings in 2009 under Dhoni, who became the first Indian captain to whitewash an Australian team in 2013.
In ODIs, Dhoni led India to 110 wins in 200 games, which is the best record for any Indian captain. In the World Cup, Dhoni led India to 14 wins, which is the most for any Indian captain. The only two ICC World Cup matches India lost under Dhoni were the 2011 match against South Africa and the 2015 semi-final against Australia.
Coming to his T20I records, Dhoni has 41 wins in 72 games – the most by any Indian captain in the format. Dhoni’s incredible leadership in the inaugural edition of the 2007 T20 World Cup led to the birth of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 and a revolution of sorts in Indian T20 cricket.
Sourav Ganguly – 49.74 win percentage in 195 matches
Third on the list is Sourav Ganguly with a win percentage of 49.74. The Indian cricket team played a fearless brand of cricket under Ganguly and won several games away from home. Ganguly has the second-best Indian captaincy record overseas. Kohli leads the list with 29 overseas wins, followed by Ganguly, who has 28.
Ganguly captained India in 49 Tests of which he has won 21, lost 13 and drew 15. His win percentage is 42.85. So far, Ganguly is the only Indian skipper to win a Test series in Pakistan. This was achieved after winning the final Test of the 2003-2004 series by an innings and 131 runs at Rawalpindi.
In ODIs, India finished the World Cup 2003 as runners-up under Ganguly, before which they defeated England in the final of the Natwest Trophy in 2002. Overall, India won 76 out of 146 ODIs under the southpaw, while losing 65. Ganguly scored 11 ODI centuries as captain of India, which is the fourth-most in the world. Ganguly is also the only captain to score three centuries in a single edition of the World Cup (2003) and three centuries in the Champions Trophy (2004).
Rahul Dravid – 48.07 win percentage in 104 matches
Although Rahul Dravid’s captaincy reign was not too long, it had its share of highs. Dravid led India in 104 matches, winning 48.07% of those. Dravid was appointed the captain at a time when the team was in turmoil – there was a rift between Greg Chappell and Ganguly before the latter was eventually removed from captaincy.
He led India in 25 Tests from 2003-2007, winning eight and losing six. Winning the 2006 Test series in the West Indies is one of the highlights of Dravid’s Test captaincy. Before this tour, India hadn’t won a Test series in the Caribbean since 1971. After the first three Tests were drawn, India fought to win the fourth Test. Dravid scored 81 and 68 in the series decider and was also the highest run-scorer of the series with 497 runs. Winning the 2007 Test series in England was another of Dravid’s highest points as a skipper.
In ODIs, Dravid led India to 42 wins in 79 games, which is the fifth-best record by an Indian captain. But the lowest point in his ODI captaincy career came in 2007 when India crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage itself. India were the runners-up of the tournament’s previous edition and was expected to perform much better than they did.
Mohammad Azharuddin – 47.05 win percentage in 221 matches
The fifth-most successful Indian captain across formats is Mohammed Azharuddin, who has a win percentage of 47.05 in 221 games. He led India in 47 Tests, winning 14 and losing as many. However, his record as an overseas Test captain was very poor – India won 13 of their 14 Tests wins under Azharuddin at home. Although his leadership came under the scanner, Azharuddin was a prolific batsman at the time of being the captain. He scored 2856 runs at an average of almost 44, which includes nine hundred, five of which came overseas.
In ODIs, he led India to 90 wins in 174 ODIs. He was the highest run-scorer in ODI cricket at the time of retirement (9378 runs).
Who is the most successful captain in India in ODI?
Virat Kohli is the most successful Indian ODI captain with a win percentage of 70.43.
Who is the most successful captain in world cricket?
Steve Waugh is the most successful captain in world cricket. He has a win percentage of 65.23 in Tests, 722 in ODIs and an overall win percentage of 68.6.
Who is the most successful captain in ODI cricket?
Australia’s Ricky Ponting is the most successful ODI captain with a win percentage of 75.6.
Who is the most successful captain in T20?
With a win percentage of 62.8, England’s Eoin Morgan is the most successful captain in T20 internationals.