Indian cricket team has been blessed with captains who have sailed the team to new heights and brought glory. The role of a captain is essential in creating an atmosphere which incubates success. Kapil Dev and Mohammad Azharuddin before the turn of the 20th century and Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli post-2000, have succeeded in their own space, capacity and leadership. But in this article, we will focus on two new age captains of the Indian cricket team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli has already taken giant strides in international cricket in a short span of time. He has a mind-boggling record with 22 wins in 30 ODIs and 18 wins in 28 Tests. His win percentage at the moment in both formats is better than that of any previous Indian skipper who had held the post for a minimum of 10 matches. If you think that’s not impressive, we present five cricketers who did not quite find their feet with MS Dhoni but blossomed under Virat Kohli:
Mohammad Shami: Indian tearaway pacer Shami, who hails from Bengal, was not a regular under Dhoni’s leadership, but under Virat Kohli, it seems he has found his footing and is a more confident bowler. He does not carry any extra baggage or pressure of cementing his place in the playing eleven and hence becomes a more expressive bowler. Shami has been phenomenal under Kohli. He has plucked 43 wickets in 14 Tests at an average of 28.23. More importantly, India has found a stable, steady pace duo in Shami and Umesh, which is important for any team’s success.
Umesh Yadav: Umesh Yadav’s case is more or less the same as Shami. He has received greater opportunities under Virat Kohli which helped team India perform well outside Asia. He has taken 45 wickets in 21 Tests under Kohli while in ODIs he has 25 in 15 matches at 24.40 against 35.41 under Dhoni. That shows what wonders confidence can do to someone. He is arguably India’s best pacer in modern times.
Cheteshwar Pujara: Rahul Dravid’s successor at number 3, his game initially sidelined under Kohli, because Kohli wanted to see more of an intent from the Saurashtrian. He may have played more Tests under MS Dhoni, but his averages after the comeback tell a different story. He has over 2000 runs already under Kohli in 23 Tests at an average of 62.51 with seven centuries and nine half-centuries. Under Dhoni, Pujara had played three additional Tests minus one century and had an average below 50.
Ravindra Jadeja: Ravindra Jadeja was a special player for MS Dhoni, but it seems he too has found himself to be a better cricketer under Virat Kohli. His batting had taken a dip under Dhoni, but with Kohli as captain, he has become worlds number one bowler and all rounder. Under Kohli, the southpaw has bagged 106 wickets in 19 Tests at a staggering average of 20.84, a stark contrast to his average in the 30s under Dhoni. He even has seven five-fors under Kohli as against two under Dhoni.
KL Rahul: Under MS Dhoni, Rahul did not get a lot of opportunities and hence was unable to make an impression, but Kohli realised his talent and promoted him along with other youngsters like Hardik Pandya, which seems to be paying rich dividends. His stint at Royal Challengers Bangalore under Virat Kohli’s captaincy has also helped him win the confidence of the belligerent top order batsman. Rahul has risen above the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir in the Test line-up, which is an achievement in itself.