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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2016 Captain of the year: Virat Kohli, the man who demands

Unlike his predecessors as India captain, Virat Kohli asks his team for top-drawer performances every single time

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Virat Kohli takes a souvenir with him, India v England, 5th Test, Chennai, 5th day, December 20, 2016

Kohli collected more than his fair share of souvenir stumps in 2016  •  Associated Press

Key moment

India made significant decisions in two parts in 2016. First, Cheteshwar Pujara and M Vijay were dropped on the tour of the West Indies for more flamboyant options. Pujara was even told that he needed to work on his intent: he was fighting at the start of his innings, which was exactly what India needed, but India needed some dominance from him once he was set. Pujara came back a more assertive player, albeit in the home series, and Vijay made a successful return too. What was crucial for Kohli was to admit that he still needed these players, though he may have asked them to sit out earlier.

The numbers

63.96 Kohli's average with the bat as captain, as against 50 overall. In 2016 he averaged 75.93.
1 Number of balls Kohli hit in the air off the 805 deliveries of spin he faced between September 25, when he got out to an aerial shot off a spinner, and December 10. (And that one shot was after India had reached safety in the Mumbai Test after conceding 400 on a turning track.)

What they said

"Kohli's influence is likely to be profound on the type of Indian cricketer to come, and therefore on the nature of cricket that India will play in future […] India's seamers have bowled more quickly and aggressively than England's and the ground fielding has been just as intense, areas where traditionally England might have expected an edge."
- Michael Atherton, in the Times, during the England series
"The difference between MS and Virat is the generation. Virat is one who wants to be at the front. He leads from the front. He says things to your face. You are not going back to the room thinking, 'what he is thinking' or what the team is thinking about oneself. He lets you know upfront and there is a lot of clarity."
- R Ashwin

The closest contenders

Faf du Plessis
Du Plessis took South Africa to yet another historic Test series win in Australia, preceded by a 5-0 ODI whitewashing of Australia in South Africa.
Misbah led Pakistan to a well-fought drawn series in England, and a home series win against West Indies.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo