Dhoni: The Best or The Greatest Captain

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Dhoni has brought great fortunes to India specially by winning the three ICC Tournaments, and that makes him the greatest captain India ever had. But, numbers do not support the claim. The numbers tell he is JUST the best among Indians as his 60% win rate is just 5-6% higher than other great Indian captains. To be greatest, one has to be miles ahead of other competitors. His winning percentage is just a bit better than Azhar and Ganguly. When he was surprisingly made the captain in 2007, he had no experience, now at least experienced contenders are waiting in line to take India back to glory.

Dhoni is Good Overall, Best for India, But Ponting, Cronje are the Greatest Captains
If Indian fans are ready to look at the number of Captains who were called Greatest for their nations, and even for world, then they can appreciate the fact that Dhoni is great as he is the only captain to have won all the three ICC Tournaments, but then poor or average performances under him in bilateral series has made him just another good captain. For example, Australia against whom India always competes. Ponting’s win ratio of 76% is overwhelmingly high when compared to other two players of Australia, Border (61%) and Steve Waugh (65%) who captained in 100+ ODIs.

Nobody needs to approve that one of the greatest captain of the world was Ponting. He is the greatest ODI captain of his team and is justified by his win ratio that is more than 10% higher than his national counterparts.

Ponting (2002-2012) captained in 229 ODIs, won 164 and lost only 51, with 2 Ties and 12 no results. Allan Border (1985-1994) was captain in 178 ODIs, winning 107, losing 67, tie 1 and 3 no results. Steve Waugh was captain in 106 ODIs, won 67 and lost only 35, tied 3 and no result 1.

Even in South Africa the top 3 captains have much better record than Dhoni and the numbers speak why Cronje is their greatest captain, above the other two great captain Graeme Smith and Pollock.

Cronje (1994-2000) was captain in 138 ODIs, won 99, lost 35 with a win percentage of 73.70%. Graeme Smith (2003-2011) was captain in 149 ODIs, winning 92, losing 51 giving him a win % of 64.23. Pollock (2000-2005) was captain in 92 ODIs, winning 59 and losing 29, with a win % of 66.48.

On the other hand, while Dhoni’s win % is below than all the three Australian captains, even among Indian captains his win % is only approximately 5% higher.

If we see the numbers, Dhoni excels above the likes of Azharuddin and Ganguly but not by such a huge margin that he can be considered in the league of Ponting under whom Aussies won almost everything and rarely lost a match.

Top 3 Indian Captains
Three players have captained in 100+ matches. Dhoni has an average of 60.40% win, while Azharuddin has an average of 54.16, and Ganguly has 53.90.

Azharuddin (1990-99) was captain in record 174 ODIs, winning 90 and losing 76, tied 2, no result 6.
Ganguly (1999-2005) captained in 146 ODIs, winning 76, losing 65, No Result 5.
Dhoni (2007-2014) captained in 159 ODIs, won 88, lost 57, tied 4, No Result 10.

So the winning percentage is more for Dhoni, but only by 6% as compared to Azharuddin and Ganguly.

Indian Captains in 50+ ODIs
There are three more Indian players who were captains in 50 or more ODI matches, but less than 100 ODIs. Dravid (2000-2007) almost matches Dhoni’s winning % with 56% win ratio. In 79 ODIs under him, India won 42 and lost 33, with 4 providing no result.

Even Kapil Dev (1982-87) who captained in 74 ODIs has a win percentage of 54.16 with 39 wins and 33 losses, with 2 no results.

Tendulkar (1996-2000) was a disaster as he captained India in 73 ODIs, during which India lost 43 and won only 23, tied 1 and 6 produced no results.

Other Remarkable Indian ODI Captains
Gavaskar (1980-85) is the only other captain who led in more than 20 ODIs. nder him India played 37 ODIs, lost 21 and won 14 and 2 produced no results.

Other Interim Captains During Dhoni’z 7 year Unchallenged Reign
Otherwise under Kohli India has won 7 and lost 1. For that matter as a Captain even Gambhir has won all the 6 matches he captained. Sehwag and Raina are the two players who captained for some matches in the absence of Dhoni. Under Sehwag, India won 7 and lost 5, while under Raina India won 4 and lost 5.

Dhoni will be certainly missed as a player in Asia Cup. As a captain, Virat Kohli may not feel the gap. In Asia Cup, under Dhoni India has lost in 2008 final, and failed to reach final in 2012, and won in 2010.

Changing the Captain not to Hurt India
With Dhoni’s captaincy performance regularly suffering, and numbers showing besides the three ICC trophies, he has nothing much to separate him from other good captains of India, and also with Gambhir and Virat Kohli showing that they can lead from the front, changing Dhoni will not hurt India. Otherwise also India is losing, a new face may lift the Indian spirit and India can start winning, starting with Asia Cup 2014 at Bangladesh.

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