Most-successful-captains-in-India

Virat Kohli won his fourth Test as Indian captain at home in Kanpur. In doing so, India ensured they had pocketed a win in their 500th Test and went up 1-0 in the ongoing series against New Zealand. The second Test is a momentous occasion as well. It is India s 250th Test at home and the venue could not have been better. Eden Gardens, Kolkata, one of three iconic venues in the game, apart from Lord s and Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), is hosting a Test after three years. It is also the first Test at the venue since 1987 without featuring Sachin Tendulkar. On this occasion, Suvajit Mustafi presents a list of 8 most successful captains who have led on Indian soil.

8. Sachin Tendulkar: The Master Blaster is not regarded highly as a captain, but he had a brilliant start to his leadership chronicles at home. Tendulkar was 23 when he was appointed to captain India, and his first assignment was the first-ever Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test against Australia in 1996. India won the one-off contest. A few months later India went on to beat South Africa 2-1 at home. Tendulkar’s fourth win came in 1999 in his second tenure as captain, against New Zealand. It was also a series win.

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Sachin Tendulkar with the first-ever Border-Gavaskar Trophy after India’s win over Australia in 1996 at Delhi, India Getty Images

However, Tendulkar’s stint had its lows as well. In 2000, he lost a series against South Africa at home. India were invincible at home under Mohammad Azharuddin in the 1990s. Thus ended India’s long unbeaten 13-year home run. Tendulkar never captained India again.

Tendulkar’s home record:

Tests led: 12 | Won: 4 | Lost: 3 | Draw: 5 | Win (%): 33.33

7. Virat Kohli: The current Indian skipper has already won 4 out of 5 Tests he has led at home. Had rains not played a spoilsport in the Bengaluru Test against South Africa in 2015, he had a good chance to make it 5 in 5. By the time this season ends Kohli will have added a lot of wins in his tally. Currently, he is leading India in their 250th Test at home.

Kohli’s home record:

Tests led: 6* | Won: 4 | Lost: 0 | Draw: 1 | Win (%): 80.00

6. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi: Pataudi was hailed for his tactical acumen and thus was given the job to lead India for a long time. His first stint, mapping almost the entire 1960s, did not witness many victories barring a series victory against (then) minnows New Zealand and a 1-1 draw against Australia.

After he replaced Ajit Wadekar, he gave the strong West Indies a run for their money. Trailing 0-2 India came back strongly to level the series 2-2 before losing the fifth Test.

Pataudi made the side believe that they were a force, especially at home and the standards went up.

Pataudi’s home record:

Tests led: 27 | Won: 6 | Lost: 9 | Draw: 12 | Win (%): 22.22

5. Clive Lloyd: Here is a surprise entry. Former West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd has led for two tours to India and has emerged victorious. While in 1974-75, the Indians led by Pataudi gave the visitors a tough fight but in 1983-84, it was a complete Caribbean domination that ensued. Lloyd, captaining the best side in the world, had lost the World Cup 1983 to Kapil Dev’s India. West Indies came to India seeking revenge and proving their domination. It was 3-0 in the end.

Lloyd’s record in India:

Tests led: 11 | Won: 6 | Lost: 2 | Draw: 3 | Win (%): 54.54

4. Sunil Gavaskar: In 1978, under Gavaskar, India managed to draw a six -Test series against the Alvin Kallicharran-led West Indies side at home. Most of the top sides were weakened due to their star players opting for Kerry Packer’s World Series in Australia. India enjoyed a good run against Australia (once again, a Packer-hit side) and Pakistan in 1979-80, one of the strongest teams to visit India in history. Under Gavaskar, India won one home series against England and lost one. Series wins came by but most Tests ended in draws.

Gavaskar’s home record:

Tests led: 29 | Won: 7 | Lost: 2 | Draw: 20 | Win (%): 54.54

3. Sourav Ganguly: MS Dhoni is India’s most successful Test captain, but when we talk about India’s best Test captain, Ganguly’s name crops up in the debate. Ganguly not only won Tests overseas but maintained their consistency at home. One of India’s greatest series wins came under Ganguly when India triumphed over the world’s best side Australia in 2000-01.

Steve Waugh’s Australia had now won 16 Tests on a row when they got the better of India in the first Test at Wankhede. India came back strong and produced two memorable Tests in Kolkata and Chennai to clinch the series 2-1. Under Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh revived his career and became a potent threat at home. As captain Ganguly India won two home series against Zimbabwe and one against each of Australia, England, West Indies and South Africa.

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Saurav Ganguly holds aloft the Series Winners trophy after the 3rd Test against Australia in 2001 at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk, Chennai Getty Images

Ganguly’s home record:

Tests led: 21 | Won: 10 | Lost: 3 | Draw: 8 | Win (%): 47.61

2. Mohammad Azharuddin: Under Azhar India became a near-immovable wall at home. India whitewashed England and Sri Lanka 3-0 at home (the Sri Lankan series comprised of 3 innings wins), beat Mark Taylor’s Australia 2-1 in 1997-98 and drew level with Pakistan 1-1 the following year. It was in the second Test where Anil Kumble picked a 10-for in the innings. In 1994-95, Azhar drew a series against West Indies at home. Those were days when West Indies were still a force. Had they won the series India would have been the first side to do so against West Indies in 15 years.

It sounds almost ridiculous that Azhar s position was under jeopardy following series defeats in New Zealand and England in 1990 and Australia and South Africa in 1992. Things were certainly not looking good for Azhar. Then started India s home rule, with Azhar as captain and Wadekar as coach…

India never lost a home series under Azhar. Now that is a proud piece of stat he can boast of.

Azhar’s home record:

Tests led: 20 | Won: 13 | Lost: 4 | Draw: 3 | Win (%): 65.00

1. MS Dhoni: Leadership came naturally to the Indian stumper from Ranchi. Dhoni carried forward the legacy of Azhar and Ganguly. Though Dhoni’s overseas captaincy record wears a dismal look, he was formidable as a leader at home.

It was a win against Sri Lanka that saw Dhoni’s side rise to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. There was the odd England series in 2012-13 where Dhoni’s side slumped to a 1-2 defeat but other than that India were formidable at home. Under Dhoni, India beat Australia in 8 out of 10 Tests at home and have inflicted two whitewashes (2-0 in 2010-11 and 4-0 in 2012-13).

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MS Dhoni (left), Virender Sehwag (right) receive the ICC Test Championship mace from ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat in New Delhi on December 27, 2009 Getty Images

Tests led: 30 | Won: 21 | Lost: 3 | Draw: 6 | Win (%): 70.00

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)