So, we are all ready with our daggers, right? Yes, the Indian side was thrashed at home. Yes, they were crushed by 227 runs in the first Test against England at Chennai. Is it the captain’s responsibility alone?
In India’s second innings, it was Virat Kohli who scored a defiant 72, consuming 104 balls in the process. Apart from Shubman Gill, who scored a half-century, none of the other batsmen got as many as 20 runs.
There were clamours to replace Kohli as the skipper after the Australian tour. Yes, Ajinkya Rahane deserves a lot of credit for leading the side in admirable fashion, but the figures show Kohli has one of the best records as a skipper in Test cricket.
We risk being short-sighted if we fail to note that India won their first Test series on Australian soil with Kohli at the helm.
So let us delve deeper into the numbers.
We can see that Kohli has an incredible record as skipper. He has the third best win percentage as captain (57.89 per cent) after Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. His win percentage is higher than the likes of Clive Lloyd, Graeme Smith, Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni – colossal names in the history of the game.
Now, let us consider some of the greatest Indian skippers and their records.
He is the only captain from a list that includes MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sunil Gavaskar to have a win percentage of above 50 (see above); in fact, no Indian Test captain has won more than 30 Tests as captain except Kohli (33).
Another reason why Kohli should remain in charge is that the responsibility of being skipper brings the best out of him with the willow.
The figures show that he averages almost 20 runs more when at the helm than when among the navvies – 60.26 against 41.13 – and 20 of his 27 centuries have come as captain and 14 of his 24 fifties.
Let us not stop here. Let us go ahead and compare Kohli against the best captains in history. Let us take a look at players who have scored the most runs as captain in Test cricket. Of the five highest scorers as skipper – Graeme Smith (8,659 runs at 47.84), Allan Border (6,623 at 50.95), Ricky Ponting (6, 542 at 51.51), Clive Lloyd (5,233 at 51.30), and Virat Kohli (5,303 at 60.26) – he is the only one averaging above 60.
He scores a Test century every 4.70 innings as captain, and none of the other names in the list is even close to him. Ponting stands a distant second, scoring a hundred every 7.37 innings. Kohli already stands fourth in the list of players with the most Test runs as captain, and if he scores another 1,321 runs, he will occupy second place.
To conclude, Kohli came back to India after the first Test in Adelaide to attend the birth of his daughter and, in his absence, Ajinkya Rahane led from the front in a stunning manner. But, a deep dive into the numbers provides proof that there is absolutely no need for Kohli to step down.
He thrives with the willow when the added responsibility of leadership is thrust on him, he has one of the best win percentages as captain in the history of the game, and he is arguably the greatest Indian Test captain.
With thanks to Rai Sai Siddhharth of Cricktracker