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Stats Analysis

Virat Kohli: Asia's top captain in SENA Tests, and a bowlers' favourite

Key numbers from his highly successful stint as India Test captain

Virat Kohli stepped down as India's Test captain a day after the series loss against South Africa, but he leaves a rich legacy behind. Kohli is by far India's most successful Test captain, winning 40 out of 68 Tests. Let us look at some key numbers from his captaincy tenure.
India's most successful Test captain
Kohli finishes as India's most successful captain. He won 40 matches, which is 13 more than MS Dhoni. Among international captains, only Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh have had more Test wins than Kohli.
Kohli captained India in 25 series. He won 18, lost six and drew one (a washout against Bangladesh).
At home, Kohli's team was very hard to beat. He did not lose or draw a single home Test series as captain. No other India captain who led in multiple series has such a stellar record at home. Out of the 11 Test series in which he led at home, Kohli lost just two matches. Not only did they win, Kohli's team was dominant; India under Kohli at home won nine Tests by an innings and nine Tests by over 150 runs.
Success away from home
Under Kohli, India won 16 away Tests - the most for India, ahead of Saurav Ganguly who had won 11. Kohli was the first Asian captain to win a series in Australia. Under Kohli, India won 3-0 in Sri Lanka in 2017, 2-1 in Australia in 2018-19, and beat West Indies away twice 2-0. Earlier this year they left England with a 2-1 lead in the series that was put on hold due to Covid-19 complications with one Test to go. In SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries, Kohli has won seven tests. The next best for an Indian captain in these countries is just three wins. In fact, among all Asian captains Kohli is on top. Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad led Pakistan to four Test wins in SENA countries.
Kohli the batter
A lot of batters have had captaincy affect their batting, but Kohli operated at a different level soon after he got the captaincy. In his first match as captain, Kohli made twin centuries in Adelaide against Australia, albeit in a losing cause. Overall Kohli made 20 centuries and 18 fifties as captain. Only Graeme Smith has scored more Test centuries as captain.
Kohli scored 5864 runs and averaged 54.80 as captain. Kohli's seven double-centuries as captain is also the highest in Tests.
As captain, Kohli has a century in all the countries in which he has played at least two Tests, barring New Zealand. Kohli finishes his captaincy stint with 41 international centuries across formats - joint-highest with Ricky Ponting.
Bowlers' captain
Under Kohli, India's bowlers flourished. Under him, away from home, India took 20 wickets on 22 occasions out of a possible 35.
Since 1990, no Indian team other than Kohli's has had a bowling average of less than 30 and a bowling strike rate of below 60. Kohli's bowlers struck every 52 deliveries and averaged just 25 runs per dismissal. In comparison, the Australia bowlers under Ricky Ponting averaged 29.9 and struck once every 58 deliveries.
Six bowlers picked up in excess of 100 Test wickets under Kohli, with Ashwin topping the list with 293 from 55 matches. Only Dale Steyn with 347 wickets under Graeme Smith has more.

Gaurav Sundararaman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo