Virat Kohli is the current Indian captain across all formats but he was India’s 32nd Test captain, 22nd ODI captain and the fifth T20I captain. Despite his impressive start to captaincy, the right-hander doesn’t feature on this list, partly because few full-time captains can maintain a good start and remain unbeaten for a long period of time.
However, India have had 33 Test captains, 23 captains in ODIs, five in T20Is and some of them have a 100% record. All of them have been stand-in captains or temporary skippers and none of the players that feature on this list has captained India in more than 10 matches.
However, every one of them has a 100 % win record in at least one format in which they have been captain.
#6 Anil Kumble (1 ODI)
Anil Kumble is fondly remembered for not only being India's leading wicket-taker across all formats, and the only Indian to pick up all 10 wickets in an innings but also for his incredible spirit. One thing that many might not know is that he is one of only three Indian captains to have a 100% win record in ODIs.
His tenure as a Test captain is well-documented. The 14 Tests that he captained between 2007 and 2008 yielded three wins, five draws and six losses but he also stood in as captain for a solitary ODI in 2002, which India won.
In the third ODI between India and England at Chennai, Sourav Ganguly didn't take part so Kumble took over as captain of the side. On the back of some tidy bowling by the spin duo of Kumble and Harbhajan coupled with Ajit Agarkar's four-wicket haul, England were bowled out for 217 in 48 overs.
Both of India's openers, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, scored fifties and India won the game by four wickets with 20 balls to spare. That, however, was to be Kumble's only game as ODI captain and he would have to wait five more years to captain his country again, but this time in the longest format.
#5 Ravi Shastri (1 Test)
One of only two Indian captains to have a 100% win record in Tests, Ravi Shastri’s sole tryst with captaincy in the longest format is likely to be remembered not for the win over West Indies in Chennai in 1988 but for the incredible performance of a debutant, who bamboozled a batting line-up that had the likes of Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson and Carl Hooper.
Narendra Hirwani may have only picked up 66 wickets in 17 Tests but in his first match as an international cricketer, he picked up eight wickets apiece in each innings and his figures of 16/136 are the best by a bowler on Test debut.
On the back of this incredible performance, India won the Chennai Test by 255 runs, levelling the series 1-1. That was to be his only Test as captain in the longest format.
In ODIs, his record doesn't read as well, as he finished with just four wins from 11 ODIs and a win percentage of 36.36.
#4 Suresh Raina (3 T20Is)
India have only had five T20I captains. Only two of them have a 100% record in the format. Between the two, only Suresh Raina has that while captaining in more than one T20I. His captaincy debut came on the 2010 tour of Zimbabwe.
In his first full tour as T20I captain, Raina not only won both matches but also walked away with a Man of the Match and a Man of the Series award as well. He was also captain of the new-look Indian side that took on West Indies in 2011 in a one-off T20I that was also won by India. His average as T20I captain (51) is also much better than his career T20I average.
While he also captained India in ODIs, his record in the format wasn't as impressive. In the 12 ODIs that he captained in, there were six wins, five losses, and one No-Result. However, he is one of only three Indian captains to have a 100% win record when captaining more than one match in any format.
#3 Virender Sehwag (1 T20I)
Among Indian players who have captained in more than 10 matches across all formats, Sehwag's record is one of the best. While he has won more than he has lost in both ODIs and Tests, it is in T20Is that he has a perfect record.
Not only was he India's first T20I captain but also one of only two Indian captains to have a 100% win record in the format. In India's first-ever T20I against South Africa in 2006, it was Sehwag who captained the side, and the game India won by six wickets at Johannesburg was also his only game as T20I captain as MS Dhoni was appointed full-time captain just ahead of the 2007 World T20.
In the other two formats, his record wasn't too shabby either. In the 12 ODIs that he was captain between 2003 and 2012, India won seven matches and his win percentage of 58.33 is bettered by only Virat Kohli, Ajay Jadeja and MS Dhoni, among all players who captained India in at least 10 matches. In Tests, he won two, and drew and lost one apiece in his four Tests as captain.
#2 Ajinkya Rahane (1 Test and 3 ODIs)
Ajinkya Rahane is the only Indian captain to have a 100% win record in two different formats. In both ODIs and Tests, Rahane has won all his matches as captain. While his place in the limited-overs team might be the question on everyone's lips, his record as a captain for India is one of the best.
When Virat Kohli was injured earlier in the year, it was Rahane who stepped in as captain for the fourth Test at Dharamsala. After India won the match, he joined Ravi Shastri as the only Indian captain to have a 100% win record in Tests.
However, his first tryst with international captaincy came much earlier, when he was made captain during India's 2015 tour of Zimbabwe. He won all three ODIs as India claimed the series 3-0. After claiming the first T20I, a loss in the second meant that his run of four consecutive wins as captain came to an end. That is also the only international match that he has lost as captain.
His overall record as captain across all format reads: Played 6, won 5 and lost 1.
#1 Gautam Gambhir (6 ODIs)
329 runs at an average of 109.6 and a strike rate in excess of 100, which included two unbeaten centuries meant Gautam Gambhir walked away with two Man of the Match awards and the Man of the Series award. All of this in a series in which he made his captaincy debut and won the series 5-0 despite several key players including regular captain MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan being rested.
The ODI series against New Zealand in 2010 was one that saw Gambhir's captaincy shine through and India whitewash the visitors 5-0 after winning the final ODI at Chennai. It was the ideal start for Gambhir who made the most of the absence of Dhoni by cementing his legacy as one of the best temporary captains. Despite that, he only captained India on one other occasion, against West Indies almost a year later at the same venue, another game that India won.
So his captaincy record in international cricket reads 6 ODIs, 6 wins. He remains the only Indian captain to hold a 100% win record across all formats. Unfortunately, he never got a chance to captain India in a Test or T20I.Published 04 Jul 2017, 17:43 IST