Most Successful Captain in India: Analysis of ODI, Test, and T20I Records

| Posted on September 14, 2023

India, a cricket-crazy nation with more than a billion cricket fans, has produced some of the finest cricketing minds to ever play the game of cricket worldwide. 

Cricketers who possess a deep understanding of the game’s basics and technicalities often achieve success as captains at the highest levels. To be a successful captain in India, a player needs to possess a specific skill set on and off the field, & to be the most successful captain in India, a player needs to be the best in what they do. 

Captaining for India is not an easy task, even Sachin Tendulkar, The God of Cricket failed to perform well for the country. 

Some of the best captains of India, such as Kapil Dev and MS Dhoni, are renowned for their cool and composed style of leadership. MS Dhoni, in particular, is celebrated for his sharp cricketing intellect and tactical awareness of the game. MS Dhoni is also considered one of the best captains in the world

In contrast to the cool and composed style of leadership, new-generation leaders like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma exhibit an aggressive approach as captains. Virat Kohli, in particular, doesn’t hold back when confronted by an opposition player. His approach is to match and often exceed the intensity of the opposition. While some cricket fans and experts like this kind of approach, some do not, but there’s no denying that he has achieved positive results with it. 

In this comprehensive guide to determine the most successful captain in India, we will list them according to their wins and delve into some of the records set by these extraordinary tacticians for Indian cricket. 

Let’s begin!!

List of Most Successful Captains in India by Wins

When comparing captains based on the number of wins, MS Dhoni is at the top of the ladder, followed by Virat Kohli and Mohammad Azharuddin, among others. 

To date, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and Mohammad Azharuddin are the only successful captains in India who have achieved the distinction of winning more than 100 matches during their captaincy. Here is the complete list of the most successful captains in India. 

MS Dhoni332178120615131.483
Virat Kohli2131356031142.25
M Azharuddin2211049021961.155
Sourav Ganguly195977801551.243
Rohit Sharma*8062180003.444
Rahul Dravid104503901141.282
Kapil Dev108434012221.075

* Currently Active Captain

MS Dhoni – With 178 Wins 

ms dhonii

MS Dhoni, a household name in India, stands as the most successful captain in India across formats. He has the most wins for India under his cap, with a total number of 178 victories. MS Dhoni is the only skipper from India to have secured triumphs in three major ICC tournaments: ICC T20 World Cup, ICC ODI World Cup, and ICC Champions Trophy. 

When MS Dhoni became captain of India, it was a challenging time for the team marked by underperformance in each format. Prior to his ascension to the captaincy, the BCCI selectors and team management experimented with many captains including, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, and Anil Kumble in that period, but they were unable to lift the team from a difficult situation. 

Then came the era of MS Dhoni, during which he marshaled his troops to winning ultimate battles like the ICC T20 World Cup, ICC ODI World Cup, and ICC Champions Trophy and emerged victorious. Under his leadership, many of the current batters like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan, flourished. 

In total, across all formats, he captained 332 games, securing victory in 54% of those games. The batting performance of MS Dhoni is often ignored by cricket pundits, but he scored 11207 runs across all formats in those 332 games as captain. This kind of batting achievement is kind of unheard of for any batter coming lower down the order. This is precisely the reason why he is called the most successful captain of India. Dhoni is also considered the best wicket keeper in the world, this just goes to show how good MSD is at what he does. 

Here are some of the achievements of the best captain in India. 

  • Holds the record for most wins as captain for India
  • Holds the record for winning ICC ODI World Cup as a captain
  • Holds the record for winning ICC T20 World Cup as a captain
  • Holds the record for winning the ICC Champions Trophy
  • India was the number one team in the ODI rankings under his captaincy

Virat Kohli – With 135 Wins

viraat kohli

Following MS Dhoni’s resignation from the Indian cricket team captaincy, Virat Kohli was appointed the permanent captain for India. After MS Dhoni, Virat stands as the second-best captain in India in terms of the number of wins under his belt. Regarded as both, the king of cricket and GOAT when it comes to cricket, Virat Kohli is surely great when batting, but he is equally as great when he is captaining for team India.

Virat captained 213 matches for India, out of which he managed to secure victories in 135 games. In the process, he also became the third-highest run-scorer as a captain. 

Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, India played four ICC tournaments but couldn’t win any of them. In 2017, India reached the ICC Champions Trophy final but lost to Pakistan by a margin of 180 runs. 

Despite not winning any ICC trophy, the bilateral performances under his leadership were nothing short of commendable. During his captaincy, Virat Kohli led the team to victory in 38 series out of 69 series played and also scored double century. Moreover, during his captaincy, the Indian team also attained the top spot in ICC rankings in all formats. Virat also climbed up the ranks during this time, you can see for yourself in our list of international centuries scored by Virat Kohli

Here are some records of Virat Kohli – the best captain in Indian cricket history. 

  • Second most number of wins as captain for India
  • Has the most number of wins in test cricket as captain for India
  • Scored the most runs as a captain for India
  • Achieved number one ranking in ICC charts
  • Under Virat Kohli, India won five consecutive ICC Test Mace

Suggested Read: Babar Azam Vs. Virat Kohli, Who is The Best: A Comparison With Details

Mohammad Azharuddin – With 104 Wins

Mohammad Azharuddin

In the previous century, Mohammad Azharuddin led the team India from 1990 to 1999. He led the Indian team in 221 matches and won 104 of them. Although he has the third-highest wins as a captain for India, there aren’t many other stats that are worth mentioning. 

Mohammad Azharuddin is the only captain of India to lead the team in three different ICC ODI World Cups: 1992, 1996, and 1999. But in all those world cup events, India failed to reach the finals. Despite not getting favorable results for the Indian team, he was entrusted with the job primarily due to his batting prowess. He was the leading run-scorer as captain for India until MS Dhoni broke that record in the early 2010s. 

Here are some stats of Mohammad Azharuddin – the best captain in India.

  • Third Highest Wins for India as captain
  • Most Runs for India as captain at the time
  • 1996 ODI World Cup Semi-Finalists
  • Led India in three different world cups

Sourav Ganguly – With 97 Wins

saurav gangulyy

The flamboyant batter from Kolkata features fourth on this list with 97 wins from 195 matches as captain. Ganguly was appointed as captain following the removal of Mohammad Azharuddin due to a scandal. 

Ganguly, during his captaincy, made efforts to lift the image of Indian cricket while bringing the best cricket possible at the time. The Indian team started to win matches, home and abroad, as soon as he took charge of the proceedings. They were successful in drawing the Border Gavaskar test series in Australia and then beat Pakistan in the Test and ODI series on their home soil. 

Here are some stats for Sourav Ganguly – India’s best captain.

  • He has the fourth-highest wins as captain of India
  • Drew the Border Gavaskar Test series in Australia
  • Beat Pakistan in Test and ODI series on their home soil
  • After his retirement from cricket, Ganguly went on to become president of the BCCI

Rohit Sharma – With 62 Wins

Rohit sharmma

In the fifth spot, we have Rohit Sharma as the captain of India with 62 wins. Before he was given the permanent captaincy of the Indian team, he occasionally stepped up to the role when Virat was unavailable. Rohit also captains for the most dangerous teams in IPL history, Mumbai Indians and has helped the team win the tournament a total of 5 times. Not only the king of IPL, but Rohit Sharma is also one of the most successful captains in India.

He has been the Indian team’s current captain since 2022 and has been called the best captain of India, and the future sure looks bright. He is one of the most successful captains in India. He has an aggressive approach to captaincy, and his style met with success. With his cricketing acumen and knowledge, Rohit creates an impact on the field whenever he plays. 

Here are some stats for Rohit Sharma – the best Indian captain.

  • He has the fifth highest wins as captain in India
  • Since the sample size is small, he has the highest win percentage as well. 
  • Under his captaincy, India lost only two series. 

Suggested Read: Rohit Sharma: Total Centuries in ODIs, Tests, and T20Is

Rahul Dravid – With 50 Wins

Rahul Dravid

The sixth player on this list is Rahul Dravid, who served as the captain of the Indian team from 2000 to 2007. However, for much of this period, he was not the permanent captain of the team. He was captaining the team in the absence of Sourav Ganguly. 

Only after 2005 was he given the position permanently. However, the team was not performing well under his leadership. The management decided to appoint MS Dhoni as the captain for the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup, and we all know how that turned out. 

Here are some stats of Rahul Dravid – the Indian best captain.

  • Has the sixth-highest number of wins as captain for India
  • A Test series win in Pakistan
  • An ODI series win in Pakistan

Kapil Dev – With 43 Wins

kapil dev

Now, in seventh place, we find one of the greatest all-rounders to ever play cricket – Kapil Dev. Indian cricket is always indebted to the things Kapil Dev did on the cricketing field, both as a captain and as a player. We can safely say that he is one of the main reasons why there is a massive fan following of the sport in the country. 

Kapil Dev led his troops to a historic victory in the ODI World Cup in 1983, and everything changed after that. But as a captain, the record of Kapil Dev is not that impressive. He won 43 games in total out of 74 as a captain of India. It is because he didn’t get to captain India for long because the selectors were playing musical chairs with him and Sunil Gavaskar. In the 80s, Kapil Dev was captain for one series and Sunil Gavaskar for another, and it continued till Mohammad Azharuddin came into the fold. 

Here are some stats of Kapil Dev – the best Indian captain. 

  • He has the seventh-highest number of wins as captain for India
  • India Became the ICC ODI World Cup Winner in 1983 under his leadership
  • He has the highest draw ratio in test cricket. 

We have looked at the most successful captains in India in all formats; now it’s time to check out the list of successful captains in different formats for India. Also, check out the fastest bowlers of India and check whether your favorite player is in the list or not.

Most Successful Captain in India in Test

Viraat kohlii

This is the list of the most successful test captains of India. Having captained in the most test matches to date for India, Virat Kohli leads this list, Check this out. 

Virat Kohli6840170112.3522014-2022
MS Dhoni6027180151.52008-2014
Sourav Ganguly4921130151.6152000-2005
Sunil Gavaskar47980301.1251976-1985
Mansoor Khan Pataudi409190120.4731962-1975

Most Successful Captain in India in ODI

ms dhonni

This is the list of the most successful ODI captains of India. Having captained the most ODI matches to date for India, MS Dhoni leads this list.

MS Dhoni200110745111.4862007-2018
M Azharuddin1749076261.1841990-1999
Sourav Ganguly1467665051.1691999-2005
Virat Kohli956527122.4072013-2021
Rahul Dravid794233041.2722000-2007

Most Successful T20 Captain of India

MS dhooni

In this list of the most successful T20 captains of India. Having captained in the most T20 matches to date, MS Dhoni leads this list, Have a look. 

MS Dhoni724128121.4642007-2016
Rohit Sharma513912003.252017-2022
Virat Kohli503016221.8752017-2021
Hardik Pandya11821042022-2023
Suresh Raina3300002010-2011

Also Read: Lowest Score in T20 International and Domestic Matches

Concluding Remarks

The success of a captain depends on their understanding of the game and the support they receive from their teammates. In the case of Mohammad Azharuddin, he was an exceptional batsman even during his captaincy but often faced challenges due to not getting proper support from his teammates. This highlights that a captain’s performance is closely associated with the collective performance of the team. 

However, in the case of MS Dhoni, he created an environment around the team where every individual was able to perform to their fullest potential. This demonstrates that a captain has the ability to shape and influence an individual’s performance. Sometimes it gets positive results, and sometimes it doesn’t, but that is the nature of sports.

I hope you enjoyed this piece on the most successful captains in India. Feel free to share your thoughts on this and start a healthy discussion.

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Ans: Well, when talking about the best captain of India, there is only one name that comes to mind – MS Dhoni.

Ans: Purely from the number of wins perspective, Virat Kohli is the number one captain in India when it comes to test cricket. 

Ans: Well, world cricket has seen many tacticians who’ve influenced the game, but MS Dhoni stands tall among them. He is the number one captain in world cricket.

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