Celebrating Virat Kohli - The ODI Skipper

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Celebrating Virat Kohli - The ODI Skipper

13 Dec 2021 734 Views Yash Mittal

"Good riddance! At least, we'll start winning ICC events now" was one of the most common opinions by the detractors of Virat Kohli, the white ball skipper as curtains fell abruptly on the legendary cricketer's tenure as ODI captain.

Last week, the BCCI announced in a tweet that Kohli's days as ODI skipper were over and that Rohit Sharma would lead the team going forward. Kohli ended his reign without a single ICC title under his belt. He came close in both world events, India played under him - 2017 Champions Trophy & 2019 World Cup.

However, a combination of poor batting, lack of luck, questionable tactical calls and the fact that the opposition played better on the day, meant the silverware alluded Kohli and Team India on both occasions.

So, what exactly is Virat's legacy as ODI skipper?

If you ask that question on social media, the comment section will be flooded with "What legacy? He didn't win anything." jibes.

Which, to be fair, is true. We didn't win a single ICC event under Virat. It's a reality. And, given the talent India have at their disposal, it will remain one of the biggest disappointments of the Kohli-era in 50-over cricket.

But, having said that, is winning an ICC event the sole parameter to judge the legacy of a captain? 

Yes, winning a World Cup or a Champions Trophy does add jewels to the crown of a skipper. It immortalises him or her. 

On that note, here is a tricky question for you all? If you were given a chance to pick one between 'sustained consistency over a long period' or 'prolonged inconsistency sandwiched between winning an ICC Trophy', what would you pick?

Now, you can turn around and say that 'Well, the great Australian side of 2000s were a combination of both'

Yeah, that's true! But that was a once in a century side. They were an exception, not the norm.

In most cases, the best side in the world doesn't necessarily win an ICC event. Australia winning the T20 World Cup last month, India winning the 1983 WC, Australia winning in 1987 and West Indies winning the 2004 Champions Trophy are just a few examples.

So, again, what's the defining legacy of Virat Kohli - the ODI skipper?

If you go back to that question again and choose 'sustained dominance over long periods' then, yeah, there you have your answer.

Under Virat, India won 65 of the 95 ODIs they played. His W/L ratio of 2.407 is comfortably better than three of India's most successful ODI skippers- Mohammed Azharuddin, Ganguly and MS Dhoni.

Also, Kohli's win percentage (70.4) as skipper is the third best among those who led their side in 90+ ODIs. Only Ricky Ponting (76.13) and Hansie Cronje (73.7) are ahead.

One of the greatest hallmarks of a skipper is he leads the side from the front. And Virat- the batsman- certainly ticked that box with absolute disdain.

In 95 ODIs as skipper, Kohli smashed 5449 runs at a staggering average of 72.65- the most by any batsman who led his side in 90+ games.

As captain, Kohli racked up 21 hundreds. Only Ricky Ponting (22) has scored more.

The biggest example of Virat spearheading the side with the bat was in South Africa back in 2018 when he smashed 558 runs at an average of 186 to lead India to their maiden ODI series win in the rainbow nation.

Speaking of which, another feather in Kohli's cap is his record in overseas ODIs. 

Under Kohli, India became the most consistent team in the format when it came to scaling obscure territories.

Of all teams, India's W/L ratio of 1.923 (25 wins and 13 losses in 40 games) is comfortably the best when it comes to performances away from home since the start of January 2017.

Barring England, India won ODI rubbers in almost every country. They beat the West Indies (3-1 & 3-0 in 2017, 19), Sri Lanka (5-0 in 2017), South Africa (5-1 in 2018), Australia (2-1 in 2019), and New Zealand (4-1 in 2019).

As far as England is concerned, yes, India dropped the 3-match rubber 1-2 in the UK, but Kohli's team was the only side that beat the 'best ODI side in the world' on two separate occasions: 2-1 in 2017 & 2021.

Kohli didn't win any title as ODI skipper but what he did during his tenure is instill consistency that was seldom seen in previous Indian sides, especially overseas.

And, that's his biggest legacy, something that needs to be cherished and celebrated.

Yash Mittal

Bharat Army Cricket Writer

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