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MS Dhoni is the most successful Indian captain on several statistical counts

MS Dhoni is the most successful Indian captain on several statistical counts

MS Dhoni on Tuesday became India’s most successful captain with 22 Test wins © AFP

On Tuesday, after the crushing victory over Australia, MS Dhoni became India’s most successful Test captain. Arunabha Sengupta looks at the numbers to reveal that he leads the tables on several counts, across formats of the game.

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As Ravichandran Ashwin’s full and straight delivery went past James Pattinson’s tentative bat and thudded into the pads, Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the most successful Indian captain in Test cricket.
The record took close to half a decade and 45 Tests to arrive. In spite of the crushing setbacks of the past couple of years, the landmark has been achieved with the best win-loss ratio among all Indian captains who have led in five or more Test matches.

Characteristically, the Indian captain underplayed the importance of the milestone. But it does not make it any less significant.

It is quite an achievement for someone harnessed with a team in transition for quite some time now. For all those who harped about Dhoni capitalising on a team built by others, it must be pointed out that for the last couple of years he has had to deal with the constant bother of retirement, aging stars, run-less opening batsmen and unproductive bowlers. If he had started his reign on a crest, he has been thoroughly tested by the trough, and he has indeed come out with flying colours.

What makes Dhoni’s achievements even more incredible is that only one of the 22 wins under his leadership have come against a minnow. He has never led against Zimbabwe and only once against Bangladesh.

In contrast, Sourav Ganguly, the previous holder of the record, led 11 of his 49 Test matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and was indebted to them for as many as nine of the victories.


Indian captains T W L W-L Ratio
MS Dhoni 45 22 12 1.83
SC Ganguly 49 21 13 1.61
R Dravid 25 8 6 1.33
SM Gavaskar 47 9 8 1.12
M Azharuddin 47 14 14 1.00

If we discard the minnows from the equation — removing Zimbabwe and Bangladesh for all captains and Sri Lanka for Sunil Gavaskar’s period — Dhoni’s record loses little sheen, while the same cannot be said for all.


Indian captains
against major sides
T W L W-L Ratio
MS Dhoni 44 21 12 1.75
R Dravid 23 7 6 1.16
SM Gavaskar 46 9 8 1.12
M Azharuddin 44 13 13 1.00
SC Ganguly 38 12 12 1.00



While the recent reverses in England and Australia are still fresh in our memories, we often tend to forget that Dhoni is one of the few Indian skippers to have led the side to overseas series wins twice. Only Ajit Wadekar and Rahul Dravid have managed this feat before him.

India’s overseas series wins (other than in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh)


Captain Year Opponent
MAK Pataudi 1967-68 New Zealand
Ajit Wadekar 1970-71 West Indies
Ajit Wadekar 1971 England
KapilDev 1986 England
M Azharuddin 1993 Sri Lanka
Rahul Dravid (2 Tests)  +
Sourav Ganguly (1 Test)
2003-04 Pakistan
Rahul Dravid 2006 West Indies
Rahul Dravid 2007 England
MS Dhoni 2008-09 New Zealand
MS Dhoni 2011 West Indies

 

While the long-serving captains in Indian cricket has been predominantly batsmen, MS Dhoni manages to hold his own against them with the willow — in spite of his additional role of a wicketkeeper. His batting record as a captain is exceptional, behind only Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar. Surprisingly, he has a better batting average as a skipper than Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin.
 

Batting performance
as captain
T Runs Ave 100s
SR Tendulkar 25 2054 51.35 7
SM Gavaskar 47 3449 50.72 11
MS Dhoni 45 2729 44.73 5
R Dravid 25 1736 44.51 4
M Azharuddin 47 2856 43.93 9
SC Ganguly 49 2561 37.66 5
MAK Pataudi 40 2424 34.14 5

The success in Test cricket is accompanied by a fantastic record in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) as well. Having led India to the World Cup triumph in 2011, he still has some distance to cover to overtake Mohammad Azharuddin as the most successful captain in ODIs. But, even here Dhoni has a win-loss ratio way ahead of the others.


Indian ODI captains M W L Win-Loss Ratio
MS Dhoni 135 77 45 1.63
R Dravid 79 42 33 1.27
M Azharuddin 174 90 76 1.18
Kapil Dev 74 39 33 1.18
SC Ganguly 146 76 65 1.16

As in Test cricket, Dhoni’s record remains impressive even when we take the minnows out of the equation. In fact, once minnows (Zimbabwe and Bangladesh for modern skippers and Sri Lanka for Kapil Dev) are removed, only MS Dhoni and Rahul Dravid end up with more wins than losses.


ODI’s against Major sides M W L Win-Loss Ratio
MS Dhoni 125 68 46 1.47
R Dravid 71 35 32 1.09
M Azharuddin 150 70 73 0.95
KapilDev 57 25 31 0.80
SC Ganguly 110 45 60 0.75

Where Dhoni still has some miles to go is in the race for number of tournament wins. The World Cup was indeed a glorious feather in his cap, but if we consider all tournaments featuring three or more sides, Azharuddin is quite some distance ahead.
 
 
ODI Tournament wins of India

Captains Number
of Wins
Tournament Year
M Azharuddin 9 Asia Cup 1991
Hero Cup 1993
Singer 1994
Wills World Series 1994
Asia Cup 1995
Independence Cup 1998
Coca-Cola Cup 1998
Coca-Cola Traingular 1998
Champions Trophy 1998
MS Dhoni 4 CB Series 2008
Compaq Cup 2009
Asia Cup 2010
World Cup 2011
KapilDev 2 World Cup 1983
Rothman’s Cup 1985
SM Gavaskar 1 Benson Hedges 1985
RJ Shastri 1 Sharjah Cup 1988
DB Vengsarkar 1 Asia Cup 1988
SR Tendulkar 1 Titan Cup 1996
SC Ganguly 1 NatWestTrophy 2002

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
                                     

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