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Who is a better captain in white-ball cricket? Kohli or Rohit?

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Right after Mumbai Indians won the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League, the Twitterati was split deciding who's the best captain in the limited-overs format of the game: Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma?

There's no straight answer to this debatable question. Yet V! try.

In the polls I have kept in my social media handles, the majority of the votes came overwhelmingly in favor of Virat Kohli.

As always for every tricky question, we can count on stats to do the work for us. Let’s see if the statistics tell a completely different story or not.

Disclaimer: V! is not considering the players' personal batting records or Kohli's red-ball captaincy record. The judgment is purely based on the captaincy record in white-ball cricket in international and domestic circuits. This blog piece has no intention to degrade any player. If you're a fan, read ahead with your own discretion.

Going ahead, to arrive at the judgment, let's look at the stats in the International and Domestic circuit.


International circuit:

1) ODIs (One Day International) Captaincy:

Feats as captain:

  • Virat Kohli led India to the 2017 champions trophy final and the 2019 cricket world cup semi-finals.

  • Rohit Sharma-led India won the 2018 Asia Cup.

It's worth noting that Rohit Sharma has captained India in fewer matches (quite understandably) than Virat Kohli. So, comparing Rohit's higher win percentage to that of Kohli's would be unfair to both of them.

But to come to a decision, let's factor out these points.

  1. India went into the 2017 champions trophy without Rohit Sharma as Vice-captain. You could argue that Virat Kohli had the guidance and leadership of Dhoni but the latter had no influence on the team selections and was limited to the on-field. Despite this, Kohli did well on his first multi-national tournament assignment.

  2. For the Asia Cup 2018, India rested Kohli and Rohit proved his mettle in the former's absence by going one step further. Like Kohli, Rohit had the privileges of experienced Dhoni in the team and despite one's arguments that India won against somewhat weaker oppositions, they did have some close calls during the campaign.

  3. Albeit having the services of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and MS Dhoni in the leadership group, India fell short of the glory by making only till the semi-finals in the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Although Virat Kohli had the luxury of having both MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in the leadership panel, he also had captained the team alone in the absence of those two players. After considering all these factors, one could say that Kohli takes the cake.

2) T20s (Twenty20 International) Captaincy:

Comparison of the T20 Captaincy is a bit more difficult than that of the ODIs. There are no multi-national tournaments barring the Tri-Nation Tournament Nidahas Trophy which Rohit Sharma captained and won in the absence of Virat Kohli.

Looking at the results, there isn't much that separates these two in the number of matches captained and the overall win percentage.

But to pick one amongst the two, one could say that Rohit Sharma ekes out Virat Kohli just marginally owing to the fact that the wins Kohli had without Rohit in the leadership group are less compared to the ones that of Rohit's in the absence of Kohli and the Nidahas Trophy is a cherry on top.


Domestic circuit:

1) IPL (Indian Premier League) Captaincy:

Feats as captain:

  • Rohit Sharma led Mumbai Indians to 5 IPL Trophies (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020) and a playoff spot which the team had finished 4th in the 2014 edition.

  • Rohit Sharma also led Mumbai Indians to a champions t20 league triumph in the 2013 edition.

  • Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore reached playoffs thrice finishing 3rd, runners-up, and 4th respectively in 2015, 2016, and 2020 editions.

Just by looking at the win percentage and the sheer difference in the IPL Trophies Cabinet, one could easily say that Rohit Sharma is a better captain than Virat Kohli by a huge margin.

But is it really that easy to tell?

In defense of Rohit Sharma, one can't take credit away from him. From becoming the captain during the mid-2013 season, he never looked back. In his captaincy stint, Mumbai only failed twice to reach the playoffs in 2016 & 2018. Also, Mumbai Indians had a real good team management and support team. Just look at what the scouting team has found for Mumbai, the Pandya brothers, the successor to the Yorker King, Jasprit Bumrah, and many more hot-blooded youngsters who are itching to perform.

Contrary to the picture, Royal Challengers Bangalore had never really had a settled team. For trying to obtain balance, the team had let go of the batting stalwarts like Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, and upcoming youngsters like KL Rahul, Quinton De Kock. Some poor outings at the auction too didn't help the cause either. Even amongst all the odds, if you have asked Kohli himself, he would have said that he's as disappointed as you are being his/RCB fan.

On the whole, Mumbai Indians went strength-by-strength under Rohit Sharma and Royal Challengers Bangalore just crawled and crumbled trying to reach the top under Virat Kohli.

In the end, amidst all the stuff said, Rohit Sharma comes out as a better IPL captain than Virat Kohli under contrasting circumstances. The answer to how far Rohit's ahead as an IPL captain comes as a

situational prodigy.


Finally, the moment you all are waiting for. The answer to "Who's a better captain in white-ball cricket?" is a hypothetical one. For suppose, you are a franchise owner having both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in your team, then you would want Rohit to be your captain just by going with the sheer records. But if you're an Indian selector dwelling upon this, there's no need to as Kohli did no harm to his captaincy stint in fact his win percentage record is better than the most. There is an option by opting for split-captaincy and giving the T20 captaincy to Rohit to prolong the 'player' Kohli. But knowing Virat, he would want to take on the world even if the odds are stacked against him.

By the way, what's your take on this analysis? Let V! know about your views in the comments section below.


I hope you have enjoyed this cricket analysis. If you did, do like, comment, and share this post with your cricket-loving friends. Also, subscribe to the newsletter to stay updated as there's a lot to explore on this blog. This kind gesture of yours really helps my cause a lot 😊

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