The Indian team has been lucky over the years to be blessed with captains like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. The current skipper, Virat Kohli, has taken this legacy to another level.
Among those who have led India for a substantial number of matches, Kohli has the highest win percentage across formats. With a win percentage of 60 and 79.16 in Tests and ODIs respectively, Kohli is on his way to becoming the most successful Indian captain of all time.
The beauty of Kohli & Co. is that when the full-time captain is unavailable due to injury or otherwise, the stand-in captain effortlessly takes his place and pushes the team to perform their best. Here are three instances when Kohli shared trophies with other captains in recent times.
It was 2013, and MS Dhoni was India’s undisputed captain. After India lost their first match of the tri-series (West Indies and Sri Lanka were the other two teams) by one wicket, Dhoni was ruled out from the following games due to a hamstring injury. Virat Kohli was made the captain in Dhoni’s absence, and he lived up to the expectations, leading India to the final of the tri-series.
Dhoni returned in the final wherein the Indian middle order collapsed while chasing a target of 202. He played out the overs of Mathews and Malinga without scoring much off them, and it was only in the last over that Dhoni cut loose to muscle India to a victory, clubbing a four and a six off Shaminda Eranga.
After Arun Lal gave MSD the trophy in the post-match presentation, Dhoni called Kohli to pose with it.
The four-match Border-Gavaskar Test series between India and Australia series was level at 1-1 and the decider was to be played at Dharamsala. In the third Test, Virat Kohli hurt his shoulder on a hard outfield in Ranchi while chasing the ball and Ajinkya Rahane replaced him as the captain for the last test.
Rahane decided to play an extra bowler in Kuldeep Yadav which proved to be the turning point of the match. Yadav scalped four wickets in the first innings to break the back of the Aussie middle order, and India not only won the match but also clinched the series 2-1.
Australia’s great Ian Chappel lauded Rahane’s unique style of captaincy after the match.
“India is very, very lucky to have a stand-in captain like Rahane. I thought he did a fantastic job. It is not easy to do the job of a fill-in because you know the actual captain has a got a certain style. So (in that situation), you think ‘what do I do? Do I try to copy that style or do I just be myself’, and Rahane did the right thing. He captained in his own way,” said the former Australian captain.
In the recently concluded three-match T20I encounter between India and South Africa, the series was again at stake going into the 3rd T20I. Kohli did not include himself in the game due to a stiff back and Rohit Sharma, the designated vice-captain, took the reins of the team in his hands.
Seeing that Axar Patel had given 16 runs, bowling in his first over, Rohit made a smart move to make Raina bowl the remaining three overs. As per T20 standards, Raina did an excellent job by giving away 27 runs in his three overs, picking up the all-important wicket of David Miller. As a result, South Africa fell short of the target by seven runs, gifting the Men in Blue a 2-1 victory.
It is to be noted here that all these matches were do-or-die situations where a stand-in Indian captain led the team valiantly to bag the series.