Here are 27 captains who have led team India in ODIs

Kapil Dev was the first Indian captain to lift the ODI Cricket World Cup in 1983.

Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Plawan Sarma
Plawan Sarma


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In any sport, including cricket, captaincy is perhaps the most important role that influences the overall performance of the entire team. In such cases, it becomes extremely crucial to have someone with a shrewd mind and amicable communication skills, apart from possessing cricketing sagacity to take up the leadership role. On top of that, if it involves captaining one's country's national cricket team, the responsibilities increase manifolds.

India has been blessed with 27 such geniuses who have led the country in ODIs at various points in time. It all started in the year 1974 when India played their first ODI match against England. Ajit Wadekar, who had earlier been a successful captain for India in Tests, was named captain of India's first ODI team. Cognizant of the historic responsibility bestowed upon him, Wadekar did play an amazing knock of 67 runs, only to end up on the losing side. He couldn't do well in the next match and eventually retired right after the series. 

Wadekar was followed by Srinivasraghavan Venkataraghavan who holds the remarkable distinction of captaining India in their first-ever ODI World Cup. He captained India in 7 matches and managed to win only one of those, against East Africa. His spin-bowling partner Bishen Singh Bedi then captained India in 4 matches of which, India lost 3. Gundappa Vishwanath also captained India in a solitary ODI match in 1980 which didn't go their way. 

The Gavaskar-Dev era

But the earliest glory to India's ODI set-up came during the captaincy of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. As legendary as they were as players, both Gavaskar and Dev were also highly revered and sought-after captains of India's ODI team. Gavaskar took up the captaincy in 1980, 9 years after making his debut for the Indian team. Of all the cricketers who had captained India in ODIs till then, Gavaskar had the highest win percentage (40%), which he had notched up after winning 14 out of 37 matches. That was also the highest number of matches ever captained by any single cricketer for India in ODIs, till then. 

Then came Kapil Dev who took the reins of captaincy from Gavaskar in 1982, only to improve the said records and write in golden letters an exemplary era of leadership. Within just one year of Dev's captaincy, India managed to pull off the unthinkable by defeating all the big guns of world cricket and claiming India's first-ever World Cup in 1983. Before the World Cup, he had also led India to their first-ever ODI win against two-time World Champions West Indies. Playing in Berbice, India made a roaring statement in the first innings putting up a score of 282 runs, thanks to the exploits of former skipper Sunil Gavaskar and then-captain Kapil Dev who scored 90 and 72, respectively. West Indies could manage only 255 and lost the match by 27 runs.

Dev continued to captain India for a decade, the most by any player till then, and notched up a then-highest win percentage of 54.16. He captained India in 74 ODIs out of which, India won 39.

The changing waves of Indian cricket under Azharuddin and Tendulkar

Following Kapil Dev, wicketkeeper-batter Syed Kirmani and stylish all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath captained India in 1 match each. Ravi Shastri, Dilip Vengsarkar and Krishnamachari Srikkanth then went on to captain India in 11, 18 and 13 ODIs respectively, but India attained a stable phase in 1989 with Mohammad Azharuddin holding the reins of the team.

He continued to lead India for 10 years, donning the role in a whopping 174 matches of which India won 90. Although his captaincy career was later marred by charges of corruption, his contribution to Indian cricket has been invaluable.

Sachin Tendulkar's era coincided with that of Azharuddin as he took up the leadership role in the year 1996 and led India in 73 matches throughout a period of 3 years. Under Sachin, India managed to win 23 matches. 

Revival under Ganguly and Dhoni's legacy

Saurav Ganguly assumed charge of the team at a time when it was going through a tumultuous phase following the allegations of match-fixing. He revived India's fortunes by introducing and catalyzing the growth of future greats of Indian cricket viz. Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and one of India's most successful captains, MS Dhoni. He engineered one of India's finest teams that played fearless cricket to soon rise up as behemoths of world cricket. Ganguly led India to the final of the 2002 Champions Trophy which marked the revival of Indian cricket.

Rahul Dravid captained India irregularly for a few years before taking it up full-time from Saurav Ganguly in 2005. Hailed by many of his teammates as one of the finest captains, Dravid finished with a decent win percentage of 56 before meeting a disastrous end in the form of the 2007 ICC World Cup debacle. He captained India in 79 matches of which the team won 42.

MS Dhoni then led India through one of their greatest phases as under him, India won one ICC World Cup and one Champions trophy. He captained India in a record 200 ODIs, the highest by anyone till date. Of those, India managed to win 110 matches, thus rendering a win percentage of 59.52 for Dhoni.

India under Kohli and Sharma

Two of the greatest captains of India in contemporary times, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have put up exceptional shows as skippers of the Indian team.

Although unable to win an ICC Trophy, Virat Kohli boasts of the highest win percentage among Indian ODI captains with more than 50 matches under their belt. Captaining India in 95 matches, Kohli has a win tally of 65, thus making for an effective win percentage of 70.43.

Rohit Sharma first captained India in Kohli's absence in the year 2017 and has so far managed to win 19 out of the total 24 ODIs that the team has played in his captaincy. Rohit Sharma would be keen to lift the coveted World Cup for the third time in 2023 which will be Rohit's first ODI World Cup as captain.

List of Captains for India in ODI Cricket

Ajit Wadekar, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Bishen Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Kapil Dev, Syed Kirmani, Mohinder Amarnath, Ravi Shastri, Dilip Vengsarkar Kris Srikkanth, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Ajay Jadeja, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya.

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