The other Indian Captains

Kapil Dev should be the greatest under-achiever of all India captains so far. For all his awesome skills, he could not win more than four Tests in the 34 matches that he led. The 1983 World Cup triumph brought Kapil's leadership qualities to the fore as he led by example. However, he could not maintain the intensity in Tests.

Mohammad Azharuddin was given the India captaincy when he least expected it. K. Srikkanth had not lost a match in Pakistan in 1989, but the authorities were keen on making a change. Azharuddin was only too glad to accept the offer, but he never quite led with authority. It was against his nature. Sachin Tendulkar was expected to bring his cricketing acumen to the job when he took over the captaincy from Azharuddin. But he could not translate it into good results. He did not like the job. In the solitude of his room, he would wonder at the lack of support from some quarters. Ultimately, he decided enough was enough and declined the job even though it was offered to him twice in later years.

For Rahul Dravid, leading India was not a pleasant experience. An astute student of the game, he appeared to have drifted away and suddenly decided to relinquish the job. He confessed later that he did not enjoy captaincy.

Bishan Singh Bedi was a thinking captain, always positive. Unlike Sunil Gavaskar, who was happy if the team did not lose, Bedi did not like a defensive attitude. Being a bowler, he always looked to take a wicket and not contain. Gavaskar had his reasons for being defensive like playing on flat pitches and the lack of bowlers who could get the opposition out twice. A veto vote gave Ajit Wadekar the captaincy and he made the most of it by winning series in the West Indies and England. He excelled with the bat too but essentially managed to get the best out of the youngsters by spending time with them. Sadly, he failed to motivate the team in England in 1974 with rampant infighting leading to a disastrous 3-0 drubbing.

Among India's early captains, Lala Amarnath was said to be a great tactician. But in terms of statistics, he features among the worst five India skippers. He led India in a very competitive era and had to face Don Bradman's team down under.

Though he was the ideal man for the job, Anil Kumble got to lead India very late in his career. His personal conduct, integrity and character stood out when he led India on the tough tour of Australia in 2008. It was the team's good fortune that it had Kumble at the helm. He led with distinction and certainly deserved a longer run, but bowlers as captains have not always been popular with cricket administrators in the country.

Vijay Lokapally