The Top Five Legendary Indian Captains in Test Cricket

A great player may not always prove to be a great leader. So Lets discuss about Top Five Legendary Indian Captains. There are incidents in history when the best player in the playing XI took up the captaincy and failed to cope with the pressures of captaincy. They definitely dominated the game with their unparalleled cricketing skills but failed to put together the players as a great team.

Leading a cricket team like the Indian cricket team is not a cushy job. The captain has the responsibilities to deal with personal differences, grievances, team selection, mental strengths, building a better team, and many minute details.

India has seen 33 Test captains in the history of the sport. All of them carried hopes of millions on their shoulders and led the team through thick and thin. Some brought memorable victories, and some rose the team from ashes. Vijay Hazare led India to its first-ever test victory, Mohammad Azharuddin led India on more than 200 occasions.

Gangulybuilt a strong team out of the match-fixing saga and went for an overseas victory. MS Dhoni won several titles, and now Virat Kohli is entrusted with the dreams of millions of Indians. Here we will look at the best Test captains India ever had.

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar

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Gavaskar debuted in the International Test Cricket second test at Port of Spain in March 1971. His performance heavily contributed to India’s first-ever test victory against West Indies. His dominating 774 runs out of 4 matches is the most runs a player scored in a debut test series. Gavaskar is the first batsman to score the 10000-run mountain in the Tests. He is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Gavaskar scored 10122 runs for India in 125 Test matches. His achievements include 34 centuries and a career-best score of 236 (not out).

Handing out a defeat to Australia in Melbourne in 1981 is the most remarkable moment of Gavaskar’s test captaincy. He captained the Indian team for 47 Test matches. Kapil Dev turned out as a leading pace bowler for India during his captaincy. Gavaskar led India to nine victories and eight losses in Test cricket. Gavaskar’s conservative approach to captaincy helped him lead the team in several Test matches.

SpanTest Matches CaptainedWonLostDrawnTieWin percentage
1976-1985479830019.15

BCCI replaced Gavaskar with S Venkataraghavan for a while after winning a test series against West Indies in 1978- 79. He later expressed his disappointment by saying: “I was replaced as captain despite India winning the series against the West Indies (1978-79) and in which I got more than 700 runs. I still don’t know the reason for it, but can only surmise that it was because I had been pretty open about the offer to join Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. However, I signed the BCCI contract before the selection, thereby proving where my loyalties lay,”.

Mohammad Azharuddin

Mohammad Azharuddin, born on 8 February 1963, made his Test debut against England. He was the 169th Test player to represent the Indian team. Azhar suddenly became a batting genius. He played an aggressive inning of 121 runs against England at Lord’s in 1990. This gained him immense popularity as a genius batsman. Azhar scored 6216 runs in 99 matches in his entire Test career. He has a blistering average of 45.08.


Image: CricSurf

Mohammad Azharuddin became the captain of the Indian Test team in the year 1989. He succeeded KrishnamachariSrikkanth to become the captain. He first captained the Indian squad for the tour to New Zealand in February 1990.  He captained team India in 47 matches. Out of these 47 Test matches, the team won 14 matches under his captaincy. His total Test win percentage as captain is 29.78%.

However, he got into match-fixing allegations. Apart from that, he had a very successful cricketing career. He is also one of the few players who started and ended their cricket career by hitting a century. He holds the 5th highest winning percentage for an Indian Test captain.

Sourav Ganguly

He is the most successful Indian Test captains to date. The Indian team led by Ganguly won 21 out of 49 test matches. He is also considered as the most successful Indian test captain overseas with 11 wins. Ganguly nurtured the careers of many young players who played under him. He transformed the face of the Indian team into an aggressive fighting unit.

Ganguly made his debut in International cricket on June 22, 1996. The world saw an upcoming great batsman as he struck a brilliant century on his debut at Lords. He became the captain of the Indian team in 2000when the team sunk in the match-fixing controversy.

Some of his most notable achievements include leading the ‘Men in Blue’ to the final of the 2003 World Cup, ending Australia’s 16-Test winning streak in 2001 and a NatWest tri-series win in England in 2002. His team ended Steve Waugh’s 16 wins in a row by an epic come-from-behind win in Eden Gardens in 2001. India won the next Test humbling world-beaters Australia.


Image: India Today

Ganguly believes his legacy as a captain lies in his ability to build a proper Indian team. Speaking on his captaincy, he said “we were able to change the face of Indian cricket. That’s what I’m proud of. I think we made a huge difference. People used to think that we would roll over when playing out of India, but we changed the image. The team does not have to take any crap from any opposition. Absolutely, and that came from a self-belief that, we had the ability to do well outside India.”

MS Dhoni

Dhoni retired as one of India’s best captains. Dhoni’s impact on International cricket lies beyond his stats. He was one of the best finishers International cricket has ever seen. His cool & composed character on a cricket field often defined him as captain cool. Being the Indian captain for nearly ten years, he never lost his temper on or off the field. Dhoni debuted in Test cricket against Sri Lanka at MA Chidambaram stadium on 2 December 2005.

He took over the Test captaincy in 2008. After taking up the Test captaincy, he led the team to win the Test series in New Zealand, West Indies, and the Border Gavaskar Trophy in 2008, 2010 and 2013. India in 2013 under his captaincy became the first team in more than 40 years to whitewash Australia in a Test series. His records as Test captain includes,

  • Dhoni holds the record of captaining the most Test matches that is, 60 matches for India.
  • He is the second most successful skipper of India. Virat Kohli is the most successful one with 33 wins as India’s Test Captain.
  • Dhoni is the 2nd Indian captain after MAK Pataudi to record a Test series win in New Zealand.
Image: Bleacher Report
  • He is the first captain to take India to the No.1 Test rankings. India topped as the No.1 Test team for 21 months, the joint 3rd longest.
  • He is the 4th captain to hand a whitewash to Australia in Test cricket with Australia losing to 4-0 in 2013.
  • He also scored second-most runs for India as a Test captain.
  • He is the only wicket-keeper batsman ever to score a double hundred as a captain. He scored his career-best 224 at Chennai in 2012-13 against Australia.

Virat Kohli

Image: CricXtasy

It’s been six years since Kohli took charge of the Indian captain. He is currently the most successful Indian Test captain. He holds a winning percentage of 60. Under his captaincy, India maintained the No.1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. The team also created history by defeating Australia. So far, Kohli has 55 games, and the team won 33 times, which is higher than MS Dhoni’s record.

Virat Kohli tops the list as the leading run-scorer as Indian captain in Test cricket. Kohli scored the highest test score as a captain. He scored 254* against South Africa in 2019 at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium. Virat also holds the world record for the Most 200s in Test cricket as captain. Virat also holds the record for the most Test centuries by an Indian captain and ranks second over-all behind Graeme Smith, who has scored 25 Test hundreds as captain. Virat Kohli holds the record of more Overseas Test wins as Indian captain than Ganguly.

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