For a cricketer, captaining an international team has always been the most terrifying task. When that team is from India, the stakes are raised even higher. Few people can manage the huge amount of duties that come with being the Indian captain. When Sourav Ganguly took over as captain of Indian cricket during a period of turmoil, he chose young players like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh, among others, who have all gone on to become legends in the game. With Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni did the same.
And now, with the baton transferred to Kohli, he is continuing this core legacy of leadership by putting his confidence in some of the finest players of the era to lead the team to victory. In 2014, Kohli was named India’s Test captain, succeeding MS Dhoni in the shortest version of the game. In early 2017, he was named limited-overs captain.
So far in his rule, Virat Kohli has fostered a number of players and gotten the best out of them. These cricketers developed under his leadership and are now members of the team.
In virtually all formats, Hardik Pandya has secured his spot in the side. Pandya made his international debut in 2016, but under Kohli’s guidance, he improved his game. He has appeared in 60 One-Day Internationals and 11 Test matches, scoring 1267 and 532 runs in each. He has also taken 55 ODI and 17 Test wickets. There’s no doubting that Pandya began his career under Dhoni and performed admirably even then. However, he played in the majority of Kohli’s matches. The latter’s faith in him instilled confidence in him, allowing him to handle pressure and thrive in difficult situations.
One player whose career graph lines up with Kohli’s captaincy is KL Rahul, who hit his first international century in Kohli’s debut match as captain. The Royal Challengers Bangalore let Rahul go after the 2013 season, but the Kohli-led team purchased him back for the 2016 edition, demonstrating Kohli’s trust in him. Rahul made his Test debut in 2014 and has played limited-overs cricket for India in 2016. He struggled to establish himself and spent the following several months in and out of the team. However, after Kohli assumed command, Rahul was presented with several opportunities, which he made the most of.
Kohli supported Kuldeep Yadav and allowed him the freedom to bowl his way in the critical overs of a game, and Yadav flourished. Kuldeep Yadav has already gained Virat Kohli’s trust in his maiden encounter. He took four wickets against a difficult Australian batting line-up in the first innings, becoming India’s first-ever chinaman spinner. His red-ball performance did not go unnoticed, and Kohli quickly gave him his limited-overs debut. Replacing bowlers like Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin has never been easy. On the other hand, Yadav kept his cool in crucial games and was backed up by his captain.
Yuzvendra Chahal is another Virat Kohli discovery who has helped him win several matches. In 54 matches, he has 92 wickets at an economy rate of 5.20. In 48 T20I matches, he has 62 wickets. Despite RCB’s bad luck in the IPL, Chahal is one of the few cricketers who has been a continuous presence in the squad since 2014, which should be enough to understand his role before Kohli. It hasn’t been a one-way street, though, as he has repaid the captain with all his might. Kohli pushed him and trusted in his talents early in his career, which has transformed Chahal into a completely different bowler now.
Mohammed Shami made his debut under MS Dhoni against Pakistan in 2013 but was quickly overshadowed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s brilliance and Umesh Yadav’s blistering speed. Shami was reintroduced into the picture after a change of leadership. Shami returned to the Test team in 2018, taking 47 wickets and finishing the year as India’s second-highest wicket-taker. The 29-year-old was subsequently selected into Virat Kohli’s team ahead of the World Cup last year, and he finished the year as the best international wicket-taker in one-day internationals with 42 scalps.