Virat Kohli Turns 31: The Flamboyant Batsman's Journey As Test Captain
MS Dhoni shocked the world by announcing his retirement from red-ball cricket with immediate effect after the Boxing day Test at the MCG in 2014. With the Test ending in a draw, India lost the series to Australia. This was their fourth series loss in a row in Australia following losses in South Africa, New Zealand, and England.
India had won only one Test out of the 12 they played in the preceding 12 months on their away tours to 'SENA' countries. They were reeling at the seventh position in ICC Test rankings only ahead of West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
The responsibility of lifting India from this grey patch in Test cricket lied in the hands of Virat Kohli. He had already established himself as the best white-ball batsman in the world. The cricketing community got a taste of his leadership skills immediately when he stood as a stand-in captain in the first Test in Adelaide. Unlike Dhoni, he surprised everyone as he went for an unlikely win on the final day chasing 364 and he nearly pulled off a miracle before falling short by 48 runs.
India's most successful Test captain
Five years after taking over the captaincy mantle, he took India to the top of ICC rankings, won back-to-back series in Sri Lanka and West Indies and became the first captain from the Asian sub-continent to win a series in Australia. In August, Kohli surpassed Dhoni to become the most successful Indian Test captain. The 30-year-old Kohli had 27 wins to his name before the second Test match against West Indies, but with the win, Kohli took his tally to 28 wins in the longest format of the game. He now has 29 wins from 49 matches as Test skipper. Dhoni had won 27 out of 60 matches he captained.
Kohli has won 31 tests out of 51. He is also India's most successful captain in away Tests winning 13 matches overseas. Of his 31 wins, 18 have come at home, five in Sri Lanka, four in the Caribbean, two in Australia and one each in South Africa and England.
Out of India's top 20 Test wins by runs margin, ten have come under Kohli including four of the top five. India have won two overseas Tests by a 300-plus margin, both under Kohli, 318 runs in North Sound in 2019 and 304 runs in Galle in 2017.
Flourish in batting performance:
His captaincy has only bettered his batting. His average shoots up to 61 as captain compared to 41 as a player. Only Imran Khan and Graham Gooch had a higher difference in averages in men's cricket.
What lies ahead?
Kohli will be captain India for the first time in New Zealand in a two-Test series next year. To win series in South Africa and England will be his goals alongside winning the maiden ICC Test Championship in 2021.