'What you get with him is never-say-die attitude': Manjrekar on why Kohli doesn't make his list of greatest IND captains

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Only one man has led India and won more international matches than Virat Kohli. The record stands the same in T20Is, and in the 50-over format, Kohli’s position drops to fourth. The only format where Kohli has excelled as an skipper, as statistics suggest in Test cricket. Not only is he India’s most successful Test skipper, he stands fourth, in terms of most wins in the format, in Test history. Yet, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar refused to place Kohli is his list of all-time great Indian captains.

Explaining his choices, where he placed MS Dhoni at the top of the list, during his interview with News18, Manjrekar said that performance of the team in ICC events mattered the most when it came to judging captains. Dhoni has won not one, but three ICC trophies for India – World T20 in 2007, 2011 ODI World Cup and the Champions Trophy in 2013.

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“MS Dhoni is clearly one of India’s greatest captains. I judge captains generally on international cricket and also on ICC events. Because that’s when you are really tested. When you are playing bilateral cricket, you are going to the office and coming back. There is not much pressure there. But ICC events, that is where Dhoni has been tremendous. Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Saurav Ganguly and Virat Kohli,” he said.

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Kohli, on the other hand, lost as a captain in 2017 Champions Trophy final, 2019 ODI World Cup semifinal, 2021 World Test Championship final and incurred a group-stage exit in the 2021 T20 World Cup. However, Manjrekar was all praise for Kohli’s “never-say-die attitude”, admitting that he does set an example as a captain, but results have never gone his way.

“When you look at Kohli, there are a lot of things to like about him because he is somebody who led by example. The Wanderers Test match before this series, when they played on a treacherous pitch. India lost the series 2-0 but Kohli set an example as captain. He said that we want to win this despite a pitch that could have killed somebody. That kept India’s morale high. That is what you get with Virat Kohli, the never-say-die attitude.

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In the World Test Championship final India lost. But till the last minute India through Virat Kohli was still fighting to salvage the game. But finally, you’ve got to talk about the results. The results were not coming,” he said.

After Dhoni making the top of his list, Manjrekar picked Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar, hailing them as great leaders.

“So when we talk about all-time greats, it would be very unfair to not count Dhoni in that. Kapil Dev at a time when there was an inferiority complex at the world level. Saurav Ganguly after the match-fixing era gave India some overseas wins. Sunil Gavaskar also. So these are all great leaders. You live in an age where there are a lot of platforms, so the hype is more. But Indian cricket didn’t start 10 years back. These are guys that I believe have been better captains than Virat Kohli who has been very good in his own right,” he said.

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