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Greatest Indian captain? Not Yet! Virat Kohli’s shocking record as skipper in SENA countries

  • The dismal 0-2 loss in the two-Test series in New Zealand has reopened some old wounds for Virat Kohli and Team India.
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 05 Mar 2020, 16:01 IST

Virat Kohli and India did not have much to smile about in New Zealand
Virat Kohli and India did not have much to smile about in New Zealand

Before India headed to New Zealand, Virat Kohli was regarded among the greatest Indian captains, perhaps the best. India were unbeaten in the World Test Championship, and were deemed to be possessing the most potent bowling attack in international cricket currently. However, the dismal 0-2 loss in the two-Test series in New Zealand has reopened some old wounds.

Although India are the No. 1 Test side in the world, the ranking has been achieved mostly on the back of home wins. The New Zealand series loss has also brought into focus Kohli’s record as Test captain in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries.

Including Christchurch, Kohli has captained India in 16 Tests in SENA countries. And his record is nothing short of abysmal.

The Indian captain has lost 10 of those matches. India have been victorious in only four out of 16 contests, while two matches have been drawn. Of the 10 losses, four have come in England, two in Australia, two in South Africa and now two in New Zealand.

Under Kohli, India have lost 10 out of 16 matches in SENA countries
Under Kohli, India have lost 10 out of 16 matches in SENA countries

If you look at India’s wins under Kohli in SENA countries, two of them came during the historic Test series triumph Down Under. But that victory too came against a weakened Aussie outfit, who were missing Steve Smith and David Warner due to the ball tampering ban. A better assessment of India’s skills will take place when they face the Australians this year.

Apart from Warner and Smith, the Australians also have their new hero Marnus Labuschagne, who will be raring to make a mark. The presence of a strong batting line-up will provide added teeth to bowling line-up, which consists of big names like Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon.

Also see – IPL 2020 Players

In the wake of the reverses in New Zealand, India will now have to perform exceedingly well in Australia to prove that they are worthy of the number one tag.

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Australia notwithstanding, India’s only other Test wins under Kohli’s captaincy have come in South Africa (Johannesburg 2018) and England (Trent Bridge 2018), in the latter of which Kohli was the man of the match with 97 and 103. In both the matches, India defeated strong opponents. However, the sample size is too low considering Kohli has led India in a decent number of Tests in SENA countries - 15.

One major criticism of Kohli’s predecessor MS Dhoni was that he was great a leader when playing in India, but one who failed to inspire the team in away conditions. Under Dhoni, India were whitewashed 0-4 in both England and Australia in 2011-2012 after they had achieved the number one ranking following a successful run at home. 

Kohli
Kohli's predecessor MS Dhoni lost 14 of 23 Tests in SENA countries

Dhoni’s record as Test captain in SENA countries was disastrous - 14 losses and 3 wins in 23 matches.

In fact, even Sourav Ganguly, who is credited with reviving Indian cricket’s fortunes in the 2000s and making them compete in away conditions, only won two of 12 Tests as captain in SENA countries. In that sense, Rahul Dravid had a better record as leader in the four major away countries - he led India in only six Tests in SENA nations, out of which he won two, lost two and drew two.

The mantra for Kohli and Team India is clear. If they want to be recognised as great captain and great team respectively, they need to overhaul their record in SENA nations, and quite significantly at that.

Published 04 Mar 2020, 06:07 IST
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