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Virat Kohli Birthday: Examining Kohli's Test numbers before and after captaincy

Ram Kumar
3.93K   //    05 Nov 2017, 06:00 IST

Virat Kohli
Kohli has lifted his game up several notches since becoming Test captain

Decorated American writer John C Maxwell once described a leader as the 'one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way'. The simple yet powerful quote perfectly encapsulates Virat Kohli's metamorphosis from steadfast stalwart to committed captain.

While he has already established himself as one of the modern greats in the limited-overs arena, Kohli's prowess against the red-ball remains a work in progress. With Test cricket subjecting both body and mind to ruthless scrutiny, he continues to strive hard to live up to the consistently burgeoning expectations of his countrymen. In such regard, his pursuit of excellence at the highest level of the game has been exemplified by his attacking leadership.

Since succeeding MS Dhoni at the helm of affairs, Kohli has rapidly risen in stature to become the fulcrum of India's recent dominance in the purest format. As a matter of fact, his Test career thus far can be split into two halves. While he searched fervently for his identity from 2011 to 2014, the man has managed to transform himself into a dependable batsman capable of leading from the front upon becoming captain.

As Kohli turns 29 today, let us delve deep into his statistics and glean the effects of captaincy on his Test batting. All numbers mentioned below are accurate as of November 5, 2017.

Kohli's Test career thus far

Virat Kohli Career

While segregating Kohli's Test numbers, the major aspect that stands out is the middle-order batsman's stellar conversion rate after gaining captaincy. If his average skyrockets by more than 18 points, the number of ducks drastically reduces.

Most Test runs as Indian captain


Currently stationed at fifth in the all-time batting chart of Indian captains, Kohli's average of 59.33 is comfortably the best among all skippers with at least 1000 runs. From 18 fewer matches, the middle-order batsman has crept up to within a century of the legendary Mumbaikar's tally of tons whilst leading the country's fortunes. With age on his side, Kohli's escalation to the top of the table is only a matter of when.

Adapting to myriad home tracks

Virat Kohli
Kohli has learned to adapt his game to the varied surfaces in India

During the last few years, pitches in India have become an engrossing case-study. Until recently, surfaces for white-ball cricket have allowed batsmen to shore up their numbers on a regular basis even as bowlers watched helplessly. However, the recently completed series against Australia and New Zealand have indicated a definitive shift towards restoring balance between bat and ball.

On the other hand, the surfaces served up for Test cricket have progressed in a completely different direction. Following well-documented clamour emanating as a result of shockingly under-prepared dust bowls greeting South Africa in 2015, India's team management publicly called upon the curators to prepare truer pitches during the 2016/17 home season. While the 5-match series against England evoked batting-friendly tracks, conditions took a turn for the worse when Australia came calling earlier in the year.

Kohli's record at home


Having had to constantly re-calibrate his style of batting as well as mindset to the demands put forth by the varying surfaces, Kohli has contributed handsomely to India's remarkable success on home soil. He scored a double century each against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh. The woeful run of form against Australia's competitive bowling attack remains the sole blip in his post-captaincy career.

Extra Cover: Top 5 Kohli knocks in Home Tests

Most runs as Indian captain at home


Among all Indian skippers who have had the honour of leading the charge in front of their adoring supporters, only Gavaskar holds a better average than Kohli's 58.08. During the 2016 Mumbai Test against England, the temperamentally adroit right-hander broke the record for the highest individual score by an Indian captain. The 235 is not only his highest Test score but also the finest knock of his career thus far.

Versatile while touring

Virat Kohli
Kohli came of age as a Test batsman during his captaincy debut in Adelaide

While discerning Kohli's record in Tests away from home, a couple of facets immediately spring to mind. If his initial sojourn on England shores threw up a catastrophic outcome, he showed immense fortitude to bounce back with a breakthrough series in Australia during the 2014/15 season.

During the series opener at Adelaide, the then 26-year old Kohli found himself leading his country for the first time as a result of Dhoni's thumb injury. The driven right-hander responded to the universe's challenge by scoring a century in both innings. The second of those came on a viciously crumbling surface against an in-the-zone Nathan Lyon.

Dhoni had seen enough to realise that his incumbent was more than ready to take the reins of the Test side. Having bequeathed a now battle-hardened unit to his successor, he rode off into the sunset midway through the series. 2015 began on an optimistic note as India eked out a creditable draw in the New Year's Test at Sydney. From then on, Kohli has gone from strength to strength and fashioned an Indian team in his own image.

Kohli's record outside India

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Admittedly, Kohli's record as captain outside India has to be taken with a pinch of salt. While six of those thirteen Tests came against a beleaguered Sri Lankan outfit, there was also a four-match series in West Indies sandwiched in between. Nevertheless, his penchant for making the opposition pay upon getting himself set can be identified from the phenomenal conversion rate of fifty to hundred.

Also Read: Top 5 Kohli knocks in Away Tests

Most runs as Indian captain away from home

Enter capti

Often touted as an Asian captain's Achilles Heel, performances away from home have come to be regarded much higher than those in the subcontinent. The fact that Kohli is just 585 runs adrift of vaulting to the top of a list containing some of the most exalted Indian skippers stands as testament to his capacity to attune his game to contrasting conditions.

Embarking on a journey to greatness

Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh remains the benchmark for any aspiring Test captain

Under Kohli's captaincy, India have tasted their best ever series score-line against New Zealand and England at home as well as against West Indies and Sri Lanka away. With a well-oiled spin attack at his disposal, he has ran riot in the comforts of home. As seven highly commendable victories suggest, his leadership can prove to be effective outside Indian shores too.

Kohli's Test captaincy record


Extra Cover: Top 5 Test victories for India under Kohli's captaincy

Among all Test captains who have led their respective teams in at least 25 matches, Kohli's win-loss ratio of 6.33 is the best in the history of the game. Naturally, the record may take a significant hit as tough overseas tours loom in the horizon. However, there is no denying that he has led by example and extracted the best out of his team mates as well.

Test captains with the best win-loss ratios

The top four captains with the best win-loss ratios (minimum criteria of 25 Tests)

Ahead of the 2017 edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Kohli had asserted, "Captaincy doesn’t allow you to be complacent at any stage, especially with the bat for me. So in that aspect, I think complacency goes completely out of the window. You try to focus on certain situations as there’s an extra responsibility on your shoulders and stay focussed (right) throughout the game."

The numbers reveal that captaincy has been a watershed moment in Kohli's Test career. Having been entrusted with the highest privilege for an Indian cricketer, the right-hander has soaked in the balms of leadership and used the coveted responsibility as a platform for raising his game up several notches. With plenty more years left in his tank, the stage has been set for what promises to be an extremely fulfilling journey.

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Ram Kumar
Someone who views sport as a metaphor for life.
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