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The good, the bad, and the poor: Indian captains in the cricket world cup

Former Indian Captain Mohammad Azharuddin
Former Indian Captain Mohammad Azharuddin
Svk Sengupta
Modified 18 Mar 2020, 16:58 IST

The ODI World Cup is the biggest event in the game of cricket. In the previous 12 editions of this mega event, Indian teams have been captained by 7 different players - S Venkataraghavan, Kapil Dev, Mohd. Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni, and Virat Kohli.

In cricket, it is often said that a captain is as good as his team. Although true to a large extent, but in a big event like the World Cup, where the pressure on the team is sky high, a strong leader is very much needed in order to bring out his players' best performances.

The performances of some of these captains have been extraordinary while others had mediocre records. In this article, we look in detail the performance of each of the captains, who have led India in the World Cups thus far.

#1 Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan | 1975 and 1979

Matches Captained: 6 Win: 1 Loss: 5 Tie/No Result: 0

India's first World Cup captain - S Venkataraghavan

S Venkataraghavan, the legendary Indian off-spinner was the captain of the Indian team in their first two World Cup campaigns in 1975 and 1979. In those days, the Indian ODI team was very mediocre in quality. They were still not used to the shorter format of the game. As a result, the performances of the Indian team in the first two World Cups were quite disappointing. In both the editions, they were knocked out in the group stage after playing only 3 matches.

Also see – IPL 2020 schedule

Venkataraghavan lost 5 of the 6 World Cup matches in which he was the captain. His solitary win as captain came against East Africa in a group match in the 1975 edition.


#2 Kapil Dev | 1983 and 1987

Matches Captained: 15 Win: 11 Loss: 4 Tie/No Result: 0

Kapil Dev: India
Kapil Dev: India's first World Cup winning captain

Kapil Dev was the man who led India to their first ever World Cup triumph in 1983. After India's dismal show in the first two editions, nobody expected India to be the champions in 1983. But under the inspiring leadership of Dev, India managed to beat the mighty West Indies in the finals and become the new world champions. India won 6 of the 8 matches they played in 1983, which included memorable victories against West Indies (twice) and England.

In the 1987 edition of the World Cup, Dev was again given the responsibility of leading the Indian side. This time, the team went into the tournament as one of the favourites. They made a brilliant start in the group stages. However they lost in the semi-finals against England and thus failed to defend their title.

The 'Haryana Hurricane' is one of the most successful Indian captains in World Cups till date.

#3 Mohammad Azharuddin | 1992, 1996 and 1999

Matches Captained: 23 Win: 10 Loss: 12 Tie/No Result: 1

Mohammad Azharuddin captained India in a record 3 World Cups
Mohammad Azharuddin captained India in a record 3 World Cups

Mohammad Azharuddin's performance as captain in World Cups has been quite average. Under his captaincy India never won the World Cup. His best performance was when he took the side to the semi-finals in the 1996 edition. In 1992, India crashed out of the group stages, while in 1999, they could not advance beyond the Super 6 stage.

However under Azhar's captaincy, India had some memorable World Cup victories, specially the 3 consecutive ones they had against arch-rivals Pakistan in 1992, 1996, and 1999.

#4 Sourav Ganguly | 2003

Matches Captained: 11 Win: 9 Loss: 2 Tie/No Result: 0

Saurav Ganguly
Saurav Ganguly's captaincy was inspirational

Sourav Ganguly has been one the best captains in the history of Indian cricket. He was the first architect of the modern day Indian cricket team. He led the side in the 2003 edition of the World Cup. In this edition, the Indian team played impressive cricket and won 9 consecutive matches, to enter the finals of the tournament. However they could not cross the final hurdle against the great Australian team, and thus finished runners-up.

Although Ganguly could not win the World Cup, his inspired leadership in the 2003 marked the beginning of the modern era of Indian cricket.

#5 Rahul Dravid | 2007 edition

Matches Captained: 3 Win: 1 Loss: 2 Tie/No Result: 0

Rahul Dravid was the captain of the disastrous 2007 campaign
Rahul Dravid was the captain of the disastrous 2007 campaign

Rahul Dravid was the captain of the 2007 World Cup which saw one of the lowest lows in the history of Indian cricket as they crashed out in the group stages after losing to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Although India had some great players in the team, but they were not a cohesive unit because of strife between the senior players and the coach. The lack of team spirit was the main reason behind the shocking result. Dravid's record as captain in World Cup is something which will remain as a black spot on his glorious career.

#6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni | 2011 and 2015

Matches Captained: 17 Win: 14 Loss: 2 Tie/No Result: 1

MS Dhoni: India
MS Dhoni: India's most successful captain in World Cup history

After the 2007 debacle, India came back with a bang in the 2011 edition of the tournament under the magnificent leadership of 'Captain Cool' MS Dhoni.

Dhoni led his team to their second World Cup triumph after a gap of 28 long years. India won 7 of the 9 matches they played in the tournament. With memorable victories against defending champions Australia in the quarters, Pakistan in the semis and Sri Lanka in the finals, India became the third nation to lift the trophy more than once. MS Dhoni was the chief architect of India's memorable campaign in the 2011 World Cup.

Dhoni was at the helm of affairs in 2015 also as India went to defend their world title. They started off brilliantly winning their first 7 matches of the tournament. However they lost out to Australia in the semi-finals.

#7 Virat Kohli | 2019

Matches Captained: 9 Win: 7 Loss: 1 Tie/No Result: 1

Captain Kohli led the 2019 team
Captain Kohli led the 2019 team

In the 2019 World Cup, Virat Kohli led the the Indian side. India started off brilliantly with 7 victories in the 9 group games and finished top of their group. With a very strong side at his disposal, it was expected that Kohli will be able to recreate the success of his predecessors and lead India to their third title. However India suffered a shock defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the semi-finals and thus crashed out of the World Cup.

Also see | 7 Indian cricketers with the most brand value over the years

Published 17 Mar 2020, 23:59 IST
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