The Top Ten Underrated Cricket Captains of India

In this article, we will explore the top ten underrated captains of India who led their side to multiple victories and left an indelible mark. 

Beyond being just a sport, cricket is a religion in India, where the captain of the national team holds a position of great responsibility. Cricketing icons like Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, and M.S. Dhoni have rightfully received a great deal of praise, but some lesser-known individuals have quietly made a lasting impact as captains. Despite not receiving the same attention as their more well-known peers, these leaders had a significant influence on Indian cricket. The foundation for subsequent victories was laid by them, and they deeply ingrained a sense of pride in Indian cricket. So, we will see the underrated captains of India.

Ajit Wadekar 

In Indian cricket history, Ajit Wadekar is still regarded as one of the most successful captains. With legendary accomplishments like the historic 1971 Test series victories in the West Indies and England, as well as a third straight victory against England in 1972–73, his leadership stands out. Wadekar was a fierce leader who could get the most out of his team because of his tactical prowess and aggressiveness. The Wadekar team’s valor was demonstrated by their victory over the West Indies in 1971, which put an end to the hosts’ 20-year winning run in home series. In a similar vein, their triumph in the English series that same year demonstrated their supremacy in every aspect of the game. Wadekar inspired generations of Indian cricket players by demonstrating that his country could defeat the world’s best teams, leaving a legacy that goes beyond his leadership. Wadekar’s remarkable batting record extended beyond his captaincy, with 2113 runs at an average of 31.06 in 37 Test matches, one century, and twelve half-centuries. He is one of the most underrated captains of India.

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Mohammad Azharuddin 

One significant period in the history of Indian cricket is the captaincy of Muhammad Azharuddin. Azharuddin’s record of 21 wins, 14 losses, and 12 draws in Test matches and 90 wins, 72 losses, and 2 ties in ODIs, combined with leading the team in 47 ODIs and 174 ODIs, highlights his significant tenure. Under Azharuddin’s direction, the team achieved some incredible things, like winning the historic series in Australia in 1991–1992, finishing second in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, and qualifying for the 1999 World Cup semifinals. In the 1992 Asia Cup, 1996–97 Champions Trophy, 1998–99 Carlton Series, and 2000–01 Coca-Cola Cup, he led the team to triumph. Azharuddin’s enduring legacy as a successful captain is inscribed in the history of Indian cricket. He is also one of the most underrated captains of India.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

One uplifting episode in Indian cricket history is still Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi’s captaincy. Pataudi’s record of 9 wins, 19 losses, and 12 draws in Test matches and 7 wins and 3 losses in ODIs, after leading the team in 40 Test matches and 10 ODIs, speaks volumes about his leadership. As the youngest Test captain in history, Pataudi started his captaincy career at the age of 21 when he replaced an injured Nari Contractor. During his tenure, various noteworthy accomplishments were made, such as winning the series against New Zealand in 1967–68, winning the first-ever Test match against the West Indies in 1968–69, drawing the Test series in England in 1967, and winning the historic 1964–65 Bombay Test against Australia, which was India’s first Test victory over the Aussies. In addition, Pataudi left a lasting impression on the history of Indian cricket by leading the team to the semi-finals of the 1975 Cricket World Cup. He is the most underrated captains of India.

Kapil Dev 

In Indian cricket history, Kapil Dev’s captaincy stands as one of the most renowned and prosperous periods. The iconic 1983 Cricket World Cup victory, which marked India’s first World Cup victory and is still regarded as one of cricket’s biggest upsets, was the pinnacle of his leadership. India defeated the West Indies in the championship match. In addition to this historic accomplishment, Kapil Dev’s captaincy oversaw India win two series: one against England in 1986, which ended the country’s two-decade drought, and another against Australia in 1986–87, which highlighted the team’s advancement under his leadership. During Kapil Dev’s tenure, India also advanced to the 1987 Cricket World Cup semifinals, making it a successful World Cup run for the second time in a row. Furthermore, Kapil Dev’s leadership abilities were on display during the 1990–91 Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, where India defeated Australia and Sri Lanka to clinch a triangular ODI tournament. 

Dilip Vengsarkar

Indian cricket’s Dilip Vengsarkar captaincy period, which began in 1987 after Kapil Dev resigned, is still remembered as a pivotal period in the history of the game. Vengsarkar led his team to four wins, two losses, and four draws in ten Test matches twenty-one victories and four defeats in twenty-five ODIs. During Vengsarkar’s tenure, there were many noteworthy accomplishments, such as a historic series victory in 1988–89 against the formidable West Indies, a memorable 1986 drawn Test series in England, and a semi-final appearance in the 1987 Cricket World Cup. Vengsarkar also guided the team to its first-ever victories in the Test series, first against Australia at home in the 1985–86 series and Pakistan in the 1984–85 season. Vengsarkar’s reputation as a prosperous captain is inscribed in the records.

Anil Kumble

Anil Kumble was a very successful captain of Indian cricket. Kumble might not be recognized for the number of games he captained, but rather for the impression he left on the game throughout his time. In 14 Test matches, Kumble got 3 wins, 5 defeats, and 6 ties. In 54 One-Day Internationals, he had 35 wins and 19 losses. Key achievements under Kumble’s leadership include winning a series against Pakistan in 2007 New Zealand in 2009 and Sri Lanka in 2010. His leadership led India to a successful 2007 Cricket World Cup campaign that ended in the semi-finals. Kumble also led India to victory in the 2010 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, demonstrating his tactical prowess and capacity to lead the team to success even in the face of adversity. In Indian cricket history, Kumble’s legacy as a captain continues to be a source of achievement and success.

Rahul Dravid 

Rahul Dravid’s term as Indian cricket captain is evidence of his exceptional leadership. Dravid holds an 8–6 record in 25 Test matches, with his noteworthy accomplishments including winning a series against the West Indies in 2006, Bangladesh in 2007, and New Zealand in 2009. Along with leading India to the 2007 Cricket Global Cup semifinals, Dravid’s leadership also achieved a remarkable feat: 17 straight ODI victories, tying a global record. The fact that Dravid assumed captaincy amid a difficult changeover period marked by the loss of many key players makes his leadership all the more remarkable. Despite these obstacles, Dravid skillfully assembled a fresh squad, setting the stage for India’s triumphs in the 2010s.

Gautam Gambhir

The notable accomplishments of Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy in both local and international cricket define his legacy. Having captained the Kolkata Knight Riders to IPL championships in 2012 and 2014, Gambhir is the only captain to win two titles in three years. Gambhir’s ability to score runs was demonstrated by the fact that he led the IPL in run scoring in both the 2012 and 2014 seasons. During Gambhir’s leadership, India won its first-ever 5-0 Test series over Sri Lanka in the international arena in 2009–2010. Under Gambhir’s captaincy, India won their first-ever Test series 5-0, defeating Sri Lanka in the process in 2009–2010. During the 2010–11 season, Gambhir also orchestrated India’s first series victory in New Zealand in over forty years. Gambhir’s captaincy was essential in leading India to the 2011 Cricket World Cup final when he made a match-winning 97 runs against Sri Lanka to secure victory. Indian cricket was forever changed by Gambhir’s courageous, combative, and tactically adept captaincy. 

Sourav Ganguly 

One of the most prosperous and influential periods in Indian cricket history was Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy. Under Ganguly’s guidance, India achieved historic firsts, breaking down barriers and turning the team’s fortunes when it won its first-ever foreign Test series in Australia in 2001. In 2002, Ganguly’s leadership helped to end a two-decade-long drought by winning a Test series in England. Under his direction, India showed its competitiveness in the international arena, making it to the finals of the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy. Beyond winning trophies, Ganguly’s leadership was essential in developing several elite cricket players, such as Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Virender Sehwag. Ganguly changed the ethos of the Indian cricket team by introducing a renewed sense of aggression and competitiveness. Ganguly’s captaincy made a lasting impression, making India a formidable force in Test cricket and setting the stage for further triumphs in the 2010s.

Virat Kohli 

Virat Kohli’s captaincy is sometimes underappreciated due to the enduring MS Dhoni analogies. In his capacity, Kohli hasn’t had the same kind of international success as Dhoni, who has won significant ICC titles. However, Kohli has accomplished a lot; he has a record 12 straight Test series triumphs and series victories in England and Australia in 2018–19. India demonstrated its superiority under his tutelage as they often dominated the ICC Test rankings. There has been criticism of Kohli’s aggressive approach and lack of big ICC titles, but he has unquestionably altered the squad, developed world-class talent, and elevated India to a formidable position in Test cricket. Fans hold Kohli in high respect as one of the greatest players in the world, even with the undervaluation of his captaincy. So, we have seen underrated captains of India.