Better than Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh: Virat Kohli in elite company, numbers reveal unprecedented trend
When India blanked West Indies 2-0 in the Test series, Virat Kohli became the most successful Indian captain in the history of Test cricket. However, for the man himself, it was nothing without the contribution of the team and in the post-match presentation he deflected all the praise on his players, especially the bowlers. “Captaincy is just a ‘c’ in front of your name, honestly,” he told Ian Bishop at the presentation ceremony at Sabina Park. “It’s the collective effort that matters. It’s a by product of this quality team that we have here. If we didn’t have the bowlers that we have, I don’t think the results would have been possible.”
In a chat with Hindustan Times, former India pacer L Balaji had identified this current phase as the best time to be an Indian fast bowler and he certainly hit the bull’s eye. Under Virat Kohli, India average 26.33 with the ball in Test cricket. Now, this is an astounding feat as among all the other captains which have led a side for more than 30 Tests, only four captains have better numbers than the Indian skipper - Viv Richards’ West Indies, Hansie Cronje’s South Africa, and the England sides led by Mike Brearley and Peter May.
Indian bowlers have been prolific, they were relentless in South Africa, they were relentless in England and then again in Australia. When India lost in South Africa and England, Kohli cast all the blame on the batsmen and hailed the spirit of the bowlers. If the aforementioned numbers are anything to go by, Kohli has led bowling attacks which are better than what Ian Chappell, Clive Lloyd, Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting had under their disposal.
For an Indian captain this is an unprecedented luxury - the bowlers averaged 32.50 under MAK Pataudi and 36.38 under Sunil Gavaskar, the two captains who come after Kohli.
This is a pattern an extremely promising one. Both Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri love to speak their mind and often they land a few empty blows. But when the coach said that he wanted the side under his watch to leave a legacy, it was not a shout in oblivion. He has the bowlers in his arsenal to get the job done and now, it is up to the management to extract the best possible use.