India vs Australia: How Indian captains have fared Down Under

Virat Kohli may have failed with the bat but on Monday, in the first India vs Australia Test, he captained India to a historic win. Ten other players have captained India in Tests Down Under. We take a look at how they fared.

Virat Kohli became the first Asian skipper to win a Test in Australia, England and South Africa each.   -  getty images

On Monday afternoon, chasing 323, Australia was bowled out for 291 in its second innings. India won by 31 runs and leads the four-match series 1-0 and in the process, won the opening Test of a series in Australia for the first time.

Virat Kohli, meanwhile, became the first Asian skipper to win a Test in Australia, England and South Africa each.

Although this is Kohli's maiden stint as India's full-time Test captain, this wasn't the right-hander's first brush with captaincy Down Under.

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Kohli had captained India in two Tests, in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s absence, during the 2014/15 tour of Australia and scored centuries in his first three innings as captain, becoming the first cricketer to do so.

He led the team in the first Test in Adelaide as Dhoni was out injured and, on a flat track at the Adelaide Oval, scored a century in both innings - 115 and 141. India, however, ended up losing the match by 48 runs courtesy an inspired performance from Nathan Lyon, who picked up 12 wickets.

Ten other players have captained India in Tests in Australia. How does their performance compare with Kohli’s Down Under?

Lala Amarnath (1947/48)

Lala Amarnath led the first independent India side to Australia in 1947/48. It was India’s first trip Down Under and it came up against one of the best Australian sides in history. Most of the players were part of the ‘Invincibles’ that went unbeaten in an England tour later that year. And India, yet to win a Test match, was beaten 4-0 in the series where Don Bradman was at his best.

Amarnath came into the Test series on the back of some brilliant knocks in the tour games - 228 not out against Victoria, 172 not out against Queensland, 144 and 94 not out against South Australia. He couldn’t quite replicate that against Australia but made valuable contributions with the ball, picking up 13 wickets.

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Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi (1967/68)

India was unable to find a Test win Down Under yet again as it was whitewashed 4-0 in the 1967/68 series. India captain Mansoor Ali Khan captained India in three Tests and Chandu Borde led India in the first Test. The Nawab of Pataudi was India’s best batsman in the series, despite not scoring a century.

The middle-order batsman consistently made good scores, stabilising the Indian innings and put up a strong resistance against the Australian bowling attack. In three Tests, he scored 339 runs at an average of 56.50.

Bishan Singh Bedi (1977/78)

Much like the four-Test series in Australia, India was touted to have its best chance of winning a series in Australia in 1977/78, as many Australian players were missing due to the World Series cricket which was happening around the same time.

India lost an exciting series 3-2, but captain Bishan Singh Bedi put on a stellar performance, topping the bowling chart. He got 31 wickets in five matches at an average of 23.87, notching a five-for three times.

Sunil Gavaskar (1980/81)

Gavaskar had a forgettable outing as he accumulated just 118 runs from six innings at an average of 19.66.   -  the hindu archives


Sunil Gavaskar, among other achievements, has the distinction of captaining the first Indian team to a Test series win against Australia. India won the 1979/80 series 2-0 at home, but the following year Down Under, the series was drawn 1-1 after Kapil Dev’s heroics with the ball.

Gavaskar, however, had a forgettable outing as he accumulated just 118 runs from six innings at an average of 19.66. The ‘Little Master’ surpassed 50 runs only once in the series.

Kapil Dev (1985/86)

Despite it ending in a 0-0 draw, India had a good series Down Under in 1985/86. Both the Indian bowlers and batsmen thrived and Australia, for the first time, seemed to be the side chasing the game.

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Captain Kapil Dev put up a fine all-round performance, finishing with 12 wickets in six innings and 135 runs in three innings. He picked up eight wickets in the first innings of the first Test at Adelaide Oval.

Mohammad Azharuddin (1991/92)

The 1991/92 Test series is remembered, among other things, for Ravi Shastri’s double hundred, Kapil Dev’s 400th Test wicket and an 18-year-old Sachin Tendulkar's hundred on a bouncy Perth pitch. But an Azharuddin-led India was unable to manage a victory and Australia won the series 4-0.

Although he scored a century in the fourth Test in Adelaide, Azharuddin really struggled to get going. He got out for scores below 20 on five occasions, ending the series with just 192 runs in nine innings at an average of 21.33.

Sachin Tendulkar (1999/2000)

He topped the batting chart for India, but with 278 runs in six innings, Tendulkar was far from his best.   -  v.v. krishnan


Like Virat Kohli in 2018, Sachin Tendulkar came into the Australian tour as one of the world’s best batsmen and there were a lot of expectations from the ‘Master Blaster’.

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He topped the batting chart for the visitor, but with 278 runs in six innings, Tendulkar was far from his best. The pressures of captaincy had begun to show in his own game and it was not long after the series that he stepped down from the position.

Sourav Ganguly (2003/04)

Sourav Ganguly's 144 in Brisbane was the lone bright spot with the bat for then Indian skipper.   -  getty images


Ganguly is known for pioneering aggression in Indian sides, especially the one that travelled to Australia in 2003/04 and gave the home side a tough fight. Although the series ended in a 1-1 draw, India had a lot of positives to take from it - especially the win in Adelaide.

Ganguly played an important knock in Brisbane where he scored 144 in the first innings - his highest Test score in Australia. But that was his last useful contribution with the bat. He managed a 50+ score only on one more occasion in the series and finished with 284 runs in six innings.

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Anil Kumble (2007/08)

During his short spell as India captain, Anil Kumble led a team Down Under. And although Australia won the Test series 2-1, it was closer than the scoreline suggests.

The skipper had a good series, picking up 20 wickets in four matches and also reaching a milestone in the third Test in Perth, where he became the third player to reach 600 Test wickets, dismissing Andrew Symonds in the first innings. India went on to win that Test by 72 runs.

M.S. Dhoni (2011/12, 2014/15)

Dhoni came to Australia in 2011/12 after a humbling series in England where India lost its Test no. 1 status to England.   -  ap


Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the only Indian captain to have led a touring party to Australia twice. A piece of trivia attached to these tours is that Dhoni didn’t captain India throughout the Test series in either 2011/12 or 2014/15. He was out injured in the fourth Test in 2011/12 and first Test in 2014/15, and he announced his retirement from Tests after the third match in 2014/15.

Dhoni came to Australia in 2011/12 after a humbling series in England where India lost its Test no. 1 status to England. Australia was going through a transition phase and the series was there for the taking. But the host side completed a 4-0 whitewash. Dhoni had a dismal series, scoring just 102 runs in his three matches.

The 2014/15 series turned out to be Dhoni’s last Test series. In the second and third Test, he managed only 68 runs.

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