Indian cricket has produced some great teams over the years. While India expectedly struggled in the first few decades after gaining Test status, they were beginning to make an impact in international cricket by the late 60s. Led by Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, they registered their maiden away Test win in Dunedin in 1968. That’s not all, India created history again by winning the series 3-1. In 1971, Ajit Wadekar led India to famous Test series wins in West Indies and England. Indian cricket was never the same again. In his feature, we rank the Top 5 Indian teams of all time.
5. Dravid’s Soldiers
Rahul Dravid was Team India captain for a short period of time, but he achieved quite a lot even in that phase. Dravid took over from Sourav Ganguly in the midst of the Dada-Greg Chappell saga, and brought a much-needed stability to the team. Dravid captained India in 25 Tests, out of which India won eight and lost six, while 11 matches were drawn. India famously won a Test series in England in 2007. No other Indian captain has achieved the feat since.
In ODIs, Dravid led India in 79 games, out of which the team won 42 and lost 33. The other games produced no result. The Dravid-Chappell combo saw India record 16 consecutive successful chases. However, The Wall’s tenure also saw India crashing out of the 2007 World Cup in the first stage, one of the darkest chapters in India’s cricket history.
4. Kapil’s Devils
Kapil Dev was the man who changed the face of Indian cricket. He inspired India to their maiden World Cup triumph against all odds in 1983, as the underdogs stunned the mighty West Indians. The win gave India the self-belief that they can be world beaters. Kapil captained India in 74 ODIs, out of which India won 39. Under him, India reached the Benson & Hedges World Series final in 1986, eventually going down to Australia in the final.
India won four and lost seven of the 34 Tests that Kapil led in. 22 Tests matches produced no result while one was famous tied. However, back in the 80s, Test match wins were rare. It must also be noted that India defeated England 2-0 in England, under Kapil’s leadership, in 1986. The Haryana Hurricane’s impact on Indian cricket was well beyond numbers.
3. Ganguly’s Brigade
Taking over the leadership of the team in the wake of the match-fixing scandal, Sourav Ganguly should be credited for bringing Indian cricket back on track. He not only brought an aggressive streak to Indian cricket, but also backed a bunch of talented youngsters, and gave them the confidence to become match-winners.
Ganguly led India in 49 Tests, winning 21 and losing 13 while 15 matches were drawn. Under Ganguly, India famously stopped Australia’s juggernaut at 16 consecutive Test wins in 2001 at home. They went on to capture the Test series as well. Although India did not win a Test series under Ganguly in Australia or England, it was under him that India started winning matches away from home. They drew Test series’ in Australia (2003) and England (2002), registering famous wins in Adelaide and Leeds.
In one-dayers, Ganguly led India to the finals of the 2003 World Cup and 2000 Champions Trophy, where they went down to Australia and New Zealand respectively. Overall, Dada led India in 146 ODIs, out of which the team won 76 matches and lost 65. With Ganguly as leader, India won four matches in Australia, seven in England and 11 in South Africa.
2. Dhoni’s Cool Guys
MS Dhoni is widely considered as India’s greatest captain ever. Under him, India won the 2007 T20 World Cup, the 2011 50-over World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy. In fact, he is the only captain in world cricket to have lifted all three ICC titles. His record in one-day cricket speaks for itself. He led India in exactly 200 matches, out of which India won 110 and lost 74. Under Dhoni, India won the CB series in Australia in 2007-08. However, with Dhoni as captain India lost the 2015 World Cup semi-final, 2012 tri-series Down Under and were also embarrassed in Bangladesh in an ODI series in 2015.
In Tests, Dhoni won 27 and lost 18 of the 60 Tests he captained in. While Dhoni took India to the No. 1 spot in Tests on the back of some brilliant home wins, his away record scarred his legacy. India managed to beat New Zealand in New Zealand in 2009 and drew a series with South Africa in 2010. However, Dhoni presided over 0-4 whitewashes in Australia and England in 2011. He captained India in England again in 2014, and this time the visitors were hammered 3-1. These harrowing losses mean Dhoni’s men cannot occupy the top spot among India’s best teams.
- Kohli’s Fighters
Virat Kohli took over from MSD during the transition phase. Dhoni had retired from Tests while Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag had quit the international stage altogether. Kohli build his own team and his own legacy, with only a few players like Ravichandran Ashwin being the link between the transitioning sides.
Kohli has, so far, led India in 60 Tests, of which India have won 36 and lost only 14. Kohli is already India’s most successful captain in Test cricket. He led India to their first-ever Test series win Down Under, in 2018-19. He was not the captain when India repeated history in Australia earlier this year. However, it was the team built by him. Kohli has managed to win one Test each in England and South Africa, but none in New Zealand. His team has been sensational at home though, winning 23 Tests, most of them in dominant fashion.
Kohli’s ODI record as captain is sensational. He has led India in 95 games, out of which the team has won 65 matches. Under Kohli, India reached the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup and the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy. With Kohli as a leader, India have won three ODIs each in Australia and New Zealand, 11 in England and five in South Africa. There is still some unfinished business in Kohli’s captaincy stint, and time will tell whether he ends up as India’s greatest captain.