The debate on who is the better captain to lead the Indian cricket team never ceases. Fans are divided on the calmness of MS Dhoni and the aggressive Virat Kohli. Meanwhile, a loyal bunch is still clamouring about Sourav Ganguly’s tenure as captain. A successful captain in any sport is not only someone who led the team to the most number of victories but also a person who instills a ‘never say die’ attitude.
Going by numbers alone, it becomes difficult to predict an answer. According to ESPN Cricinfo, Dhoni played 199 matches between 2007 and 2016 as captain, winning 110 of them. He has a winning percentage of 59.57. Ganguly played 147 and won 76 of them, taking his winning percentage to 53.52. Meanwhile, Kohli is new to captaincy and has only played 49 matches, and won 38 of them.
The choice becomes simpler when we look at the success stories of each of them. Ganguly ruled as the most successful Indian captain for a long time, but his career missed out on a few major trophies. Besides winning the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, Dhoni became the first captain in his first series to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Dhoni also led India to victory at the World Cup in 2011. While Ganguly led India to the finals of the 2003 World Cup, India lost to Australia.
Kohli, on the other hand, is yet to feature as captain in a World Cup. However, in 2017, he led India to the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy, losing to Pakistan by 180 runs.
Kohli is very prolific when it comes to batting and his aggressive approach to matches rubs off on the team. Ganguly too was famous for a similar approach. However, both captains lack the composed nature of MS Dhoni, who somehow managed to remain calm, think out of the box even under the most stressful conditions.
Kohli is still new to captaining the Indian team – at least when you look at the number of matches he’s played as captain – but he does have what it takes. In fact, he led the U-19 team to its World Cup title in 2008. He still has a long way to go to be considered one of the best from India.
That leaves Ganguly and Dhoni. Ganguly infused the team with younger players and led India to much silverware. Dhoni did similar, but his tenure did include victories in some major tournaments. The jury is out on them, but with both Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly himself labeling Dhoni as a better leader, he probably has an edge.