Virender Sehwag to Shikhar Dhawan: India’s 7 T20I captains

Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina have all led India in T20Is.
Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina have all led India in T20Is.

After the toss at the R Premadasa Stadium on Sunday, Shikhar Dhawan will be the seventh man to lead India in T20I cricket.

India’s T20I journey has been rather fascinating. From being skeptical about the format to being crowned the inaugural T20 World Champions to being a powerhouse of the shortest format through the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), India have enjoyed good success in the format, registering 88 outright wins from their 142 matches over the past 15 years. They have also registered three ties, which they have converted to victories through bowl-outs and super overs.

For all teams that have played at least 100 T20Is, India have the best win-loss ratio of 1.872. They are also the only side on the list to have a batting average above 30.

As the audition for the T20 World Cup in October begins in Sri Lanka on Sunday, let us glance through the men who have led India in the shortest format.

List of T20I captains for India

#1 Virender Sehwag (2006)

Played 1 | Won 1 | Success 100%

Virender Sehwag was one of India's most explosive cricketers.
Virender Sehwag was one of India's most explosive cricketers.

India’s long-awaited T20I debut finally happened in South Africa in December 2006. The BCCI weren’t interested in the format, and therefore, India didn’t even have a domestic T20 tournament until April 2007.

India were humiliated 0-4 in the ODIs, with regular skipper Rahul Dravid injuring himself in the third game. The lone T20I was squeezed between the fourth and the fifth ODI. Dravid’s unavailability meant vice-captain Virender Sehwag would lead India in the historic match. It was a format suited to Sehwag’s skills, and he had experienced playing it during his County cricket stint.

In a nail-biter on a damp Johannesburg surface, India clinched a thriller. Skipper Sehwag led from the front by providing an apt start, while Dinesh Karthik slipped into the role of a successful finisher. This match remains the only T20I of Sachin Tendulkar’s career.

Though Sehwag’s leadership skills proved useful in the IPL later, he never captained India in T20Is again.

#2 MS Dhoni (2007-16)

Played 72 | Won 41 | Lost 28 | Success 59.28%

  • 2007 T20 World Cup
MS Dhoni celebrates India's T20 World Cup win in 2007.
MS Dhoni celebrates India's T20 World Cup win in 2007.

The MS Dhoni-fairy-tale as Indian captain began with this format. With senior cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Zaheer Khan backing out of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, a young Dhoni was trusted with leading an inexperienced side. In one of cricket’s most sensational stories, the young Indian side toppled all odds of being crowned world champions.

There was no looking back as Dhoni was soon trusted with the national captaincy across formats. Leading the Test side for six years, he remained India’s regular white-ball skipper for nine years. Under his leadership, India were also the runners-up in the 2014 T20 World Cup and semi-finalists in the 2016 edition at home.

One of the sharpest minds in the shorter formats, Dhoni’s World Cup triumph helped him become Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) first captain and the most expensive cricketer in the IPL. 13 years later, he remains the captain of the yellow brigade and has three IPL silverware in his cabinet alongside two CLT20 trophies. Having participated in 11 complete IPL editions, CSK made it to the playoffs 10 times and played eight finals.

#3 Suresh Raina (2010-11)

Played 3 | Won 3 | Success 100%

Suresh Raina was one of India's early T20 stars.
Suresh Raina was one of India's early T20 stars.

Thanks to the IPL, Suresh Raina became one of India’s early T20 heroes. A deputy to Dhoni at CSK for years, he soon got promoted to the same role in the national side. During the 2010 T20 World Cup, he also became the first Indian to score a hundred in T20Is.

The following month in the absence of Dhoni, he led India to a T20I series win in Zimbabwe. Interestingly, the first match of the series marked the T20I debuts of Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin.

A year later, he also led India to a win in the one-off T20I in the West Indies. With the rise of Kohli and Rohit Sharma, Raina didn’t get another opportunity to lead and eventually lost his place in the side.

Raina remains Dhoni’s deputy at CSK and has even led the side in the latter’s absence. He led the Gujarat Lions in the 2016 and 2017 seasons after CSK was slapped with a two-year ban.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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