Best captain in Indian cricket history: See Test, ODI, T20I records

When we talk about the best captain in Indian cricket history, names such as MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin are among the most discussed. Cricket in India is like a religion and it has only gained more popularity as time went by. Indian cricket has a rich history and leading the national side is a huge honour for any player. 

Captain is the most important figure in a team as the decisions taken by the captain can make or break the match. India has witnessed several legendary captains over the years. Fans consider MS Dhoni the best captain in Indian cricket history, having led the side to three ICC trophies. 

However, the answer to this debate isn't as straightforward with three different formats. So we are going to split this into three different parts and rate India's best captain in each format. 

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Best captain in Indian cricket history in Tests 

Best captain in Indian cricket history
Photo by Icon Sport
MatchesWonLostWin %
Virat Kohli 68401758.82
MS Dhoni60271845
Sourav Ganguly 49211342.85
Mohammad Azharuddin47141429.78
Rahul Dravid258632

Virat Kohli 

Virat Kohli led India to the heights they had hardly seen before in the longer format. Kohli injected the culture of good fitness into the side and reaped rewards, becoming the best touring team in the world and being invincible at home. 

Virat Kohli has an incredible captaincy record in Test cricket. He is the most successful captain in Indian Test cricket history with the best win percentage amongst all captains. Kohli has captained India in 68 Test matches, winning 40 of them and losing 17, with the win percentage reading 58.82. Kohli has 13 more victories than the next best, Dhoni. No other Indian captain has a win percentage of over 50. 

Kohli took over the captaincy reins from Dhoni in the fourth Test of the Australia tour in 2014/15. From being ranked seventh on the ICC Test rankings when he took over, Kohli led India to three consecutive ICC Test maces in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Until 2019, ICC Test mace was awarded to the top-ranked team at the end of the cut-off date. 

Virat has led the Indian team in 24 Test series and won 18 of them. Not losing a single series at home remains one of his biggest achievements as a captain. Under his captaincy, India won the series in Australia for the first time, beating the home side by 2-1 in 2018. He also led India into the finals of the inaugural World Test Championship. 

India's away record in Kohli tenure was exceptional. They played 36 Tests away from home under Kohli’s leadership, winning 16 of those. Perhaps the biggest legacy of Kohli's captaincy tenure was the fast bowling attack he formed. With the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav at their best, India had a pace attack to rival the best in the world. 

Best captain in Indian cricket history in ODIs 

MatchesWonLostWin %
MS Dhoni2001107455
Mohammad Azharuddin174907651.72
Virat Kohli 95652768.42
Kapil Dev74393352.70
Rohit Sharma 45341075.55

MS Dhoni

If Kohli is the best Indian captain in Test cricket, MS Dhoni will go down as the best captain India has ever had in limited overs cricket. Dhoni had an unparalleled success in the fifty-over format, ending up with the most ODI wins as Indian captain. 

Dhoni is only the second Indian captain to win the ODI World Cup apart from Kapil Dev, having lifted the trophy in 2011 after beating Sri Lanka in the final. He remains the only captain in Indian cricket history to have won the ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy. Dhoni achieved this feat when India won the 2013 Champions Trophy by beating England in the final. In 2008, Dhoni became the first Indian captain to win an ODI series in Australia. 

Overall, Captain Cool led India in 200 ODIs and won 110 of those while losing 74 matches. For such a long tenure as a captain, Dhoni's win percentage of 55 looks pretty good. Only two other captains have had a better win percentage – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. 

Kohli won 65 out of 95 ODIs he captained for India – that is a win percentage of 68.42, whereas Sharma has won 34 out of 45 ODIs with best win percentage of 75.55. But Dhoni has what these two don't – an ICC trophy. Until someone comes and wins a World Cup for India, Dhoni will remain the best captain in Indian cricket history in the fifty-over format. 

Best captain in Indian cricket history in T20Is 

MatchesWonLostWin %
MS Dhoni72412856.94
Rohit Sharma 54411275.92
Virat Kohli 50301660
Hardik Pandya 1610562.50
Suryakumar Yadav 75271.42

MS Dhoni 

Like ODIs, MS Dhoni remains the best captain India has had in T20 internationals. He is the only captain to have led India to a T20 World title, having lifted the trophy in 2007 with a very young side. Dhoni led the side exceptionally well as India defeated Australia in the semifinal and Pakistan in the final. 

Under his captaincy, India reached the final of the T20 World Cup in 2014 as well but lost to Sri Lanka. Overall, Dhoni captained India in 72 T20 internationals, winning 41 and losing 28. If we look at the win percentage of captains who have led India in at least 25 T20Is, Dhoni sits at third spot with 56.94% wins. Rohit Sharma has the best win percentage at 75.92, having won 41 out of 54 matches he has captained. Virat Kohli has led India in 50 T20Is, winning 30 of those at a win percentage of 60. 


A strong believer in the fact that Kohli and Paes are the greatest Indian superstars!