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Virat Kohli on course to leapfrog MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly as India's most successful Test captain

India Today logo India Today 21-09-2016

Virat Kohli is on the cusp of history. If he leads India to a whitewash in the three-Test series against New Zealand starting later this week, he will become India's fourth-most successful Test captain after MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin.

Kohli has overseen seven victories and suffered only two defeats in his 14 Tests as India captain. Sunil Gavaskar and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, who led in 47 and 40 Tests respectively, could manage only nine wins apiece. Kapil Dev, in four years and 34 Tests as India captain, led the team to only four wins.

Up against some of Indian cricket's greatest captains, Kohli's record is phenomenal.

But it's not just mere numbers that have elevated Kohli to the echelons of greatness. His cricketing acumen and marshalling of resources have been incredible in his brief tenure. After taking over the reins from Dhoni in Australia in 2014, Kohli has made no bones about wanting to win Test matches.

His twin hundreds in Adelaide and aggressive leadership in Sri Lanka and against South Africa and the West Indies have been the hallmark of a new-look Indian team. No other Indian captain has presided over three back-to-back Test series wins in their first year as captain.

Photos: Indian cricketers and their wives & girlfriends

undefined Indian cricketers and their wives & girlfriends

Kohli took over at a time when India's Test fortunes were dwindling. But he brought the team back on track and to winning ways immediately, with historic triumphs. He is yet to lose a series as captain and with home series lined up at home against New Zealand, England, a one-off Test against Bangladesh and Australia, it does not look likely that he would lose a series anytime soon.

Kohli only 27 is being touted to become India's most successful Test captain ever. For all you know, he could eclipse Mohammad Azharuddin, who sits third on the list with 14 wins from 49 Tests by the end of the season. Thereafter, Ganguly (21) and Dhoni (27) would be the next targets.

Of course, it is not about statistics alone. When Ganguly took over, Indian cricket was in dire straits, trying to battle past the ugly match-fixing controversy. It was also a time when India had not yet mastered the art of winning abroad. But Dada lifted a fallen team and helped it soar.

Victories followed in England, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India were invincible at home and suddenly a team to be reckoned with overseas.

Dhoni of course took the team to newer highs and oversaw the rise to the top of the ICC Test rankings. The Jharkhand star also had to deal with an exodus of the Big Five. Considerably hampered by the lack of an experienced middle-order and quality bowlers, Dhoni sat helplessly as the team touched new lows and eventually lost a home series against England on tailormade pitches to suit his spinners. 

Kohli took over the reins at a time when little was expected of the Test side. But he had different ideas. He was not prepared to sit back and wait for the opposition to make mistakes.

Kohli would lead from the front and perk his bowlers up to take 20 wickets in a match. The bowlers would be his protagonists and he had absolutely no scruples about playing on rank turners at home to dethrone erstwhile number one South Africa even as his own impressive batting average took a dip.

He, like Ganguly, is a man who wants to win at any cost. He, like Ganguly, has a settled team at last and has now the chance to mould them into world beaters.

Statistics alone will not guarantee Kohli's greatness. He needs to carry on the good work he has started and ensure that India are global superpowers for years to come.

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