Wisden

The independent voice of cricket

LIVE SCORES
South Africa v India

Virat Kohli leaves the stage with a legacy few can match

by Divy Tripathi 6 minute read

Virat Kohli, who announced his resignation as Test skipper on Saturday, has secured his legacy as India’s greatest ever leader in the longest form.

The Delhi batter took the helm of the side during the 2014/15 Australia tour, with MS Dhoni announcing his retirement from Test cricket. Kohli proceeded to build a side in his own image, one which would play fearless, uncompromising cricket.

And the transformation was soon visible for all to see. Even before he officially took over as the full-time skipper he made a side, which had looked listless in England that same year, battle to the last moment in Adelaide. A fighting spirit was imbued. And this was to deliver results very soon, for in 2015 India beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka for the first time in 22 years.

He continued India’s excellent record at home beating the likes of South Africa (3-0), New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0), and Australia (2-1) from 2015 to 2017. This naturally raised expectations as to how the side would perform away from home under a naturally aggressive captain who was looking for results. Kohli’s India fell short on a few occasions, but delivered series wins in Australia (twice), the Caribbean (twice), and returned back from England last year with a 2-1 lead. Even if they fell short in South Africa this month, they remained competitive until the final day.

Under him India played 68 Tests, winning 40, losing 17 and drawing 11 Tests. This makes him the fourth most successful Test skipper in terms of total wins (after Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Waugh). More so he is also the fourth most successful Test skipper (minimum 20 Tests) in terms of win percentage, with his 58.82% bettered only by three Australia legends (Don Bradman, Ponting and Waugh).

Only a few decades ago, India’s most successful skipper had the same number of wins as defeats to his name (Mohammad Azharuddin with 14 wins and 14 losses). Kohli took India, already a formidable side at home, to another level. They never lost a Test series under his leadership in India.

Despite his numbers dipping in the last couple of years, Kohli’s record as a batter when captaining his side was exemplary. He scored 5,864 runs as a Test captain at an average of 54.8. This included 20 hundreds and 18 half-centuries to his name. For those who have led in more than 25 Tests, his average as skipper is the eighth best of all time and the best ever for an Asian player, with Imran Khan coming in next at 52.34.

He has the fourth most career runs as captain and a better average than the top three of Graeme Smith, Allan Border and Ponting.

The top three individual scores by an India captain all belong to Kohli (254*, 243, and 235). He also has the highest Test score by an India captain (200 against the West Indies) away from home.

Kohli was an extremely successful skipper who brought unprecedented glory for his team, while also maintaining his form with the bat. His successor will have big shoes to fill.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
LEARN MORE
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99

SUBSCRIBE