India in England

Data check: Virat Kohli is well on the way to becoming one of the greatest ODI captains

The Indian skipper ties with Clive Lloyd and Ricky Ponting with 39 wins in their first 50 ODIs as captain.

The Indian cricket team just registered a win in the first One-Day International against England this summer, and with it, Virat Kohli’s 39th victory as a captain. The Indian skipper ties with Clive Lloyd and Ricky Ponting with 39 wins in their first 50 ODIs as captain.

The Indian captain wins over 79% of his matches, the highest for any captain who has led in at least 30 ODIs for their country. Among history’s greatest ODI captains, he’s had an excellent start – he’s on par with Lloyd and Ponting. He’s also streets ahead of his predecessor Dhoni and slew of other greats of the game.

Some captains hit their stride at a later stage. Steve Waugh and Shaun Pollock got better with time, but others like Vivian Richards petered out once they got a stellar start. Kohli, however, seems to be in fine company. Only five captains have a win percentage greater than 70%, all of whom are considered greats in their own right.

To really establish himself, Kohli would need to supersede the prowess of Ponting, who arguably is the greatest limited-overs captain ever. At the moment, he’s standing well above the competition, but that may change with time.

Captain Matches Win percentage
Virat Kohli 50
79.59%
Clive Lloyd 84
77.71%
Ricky Ponting 230
76.14%
Hansie Cronje 138
73.7%
Michael Clarke
74 70.42%

Among Indian captains who’ve been at the helm for at least 50 ODIs, Kohli is the best at this stage of his career. Indian captains haven’t been particularly successful in the early part of their tenure. Only Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kapil Dev and Kohli have won more than 50% of their matches in this period. Dhoni and Kapil subsequently won World Cups, an achievement the Kohli is yet to achieve as captain.

Kohli certainly has the machismo to keep his captaincy going for many years. He compliments it with his ferocious batting. Can he overtake Ponting and Lloyd by the time his career ends? Don’t rule it out.

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