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Last update: 27 Feb 2019
Team India were an unknown commodity in the Twenty20 format before the inaugural World T20. They had played just one T20I (against South Africa in 2006) and the nation’s cricket fans had little idea about the sport’s shortest format. But, thanks to one man and his street-smart cricketing brain, India became World T20 champions by beating Pakistan in the final of the inaugural edition in South Africa.
Since then, India have arguably been the second or third-best team in T20 Internationals, behind West Indies and New Zealand. As a cricket crazy nation, the Indian fans were always likely to take to this format sooner or later, but soon after the World Cup 2007 debacle in the Caribbean, the national team gave them plenty to rejoice and celebrate by winning against their arch-rivals on September 24, ’07.
MS Dhoni’s decision to throw the ball to Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over of the 2007 World T20 final can be seen as a gamble or as a vote of confidence, but in the end, it proved to be a captaincy masterstroke. The former Indian skipper tasted success in limited-overs cricket to the extent none of his predecessors had and his methods worked wonders for him and the Indian national cricket team more often than not. So, we cannot be critical of the decisions Dhoni took.
Dhoni captained India in as many as 72 T20Is, winning 41 and losing 28, that even Virat Kohli, who currently leads India in all formats, might struggle to match that number. And Dhoni’s T20I captaincy record is here to stay for the foreseeable future as well.
What can also not be overlooked is the influence of IPL in India becoming a formidable T20 side and captains subsequently being resourceful. Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, more than the other players, are products of the IPL and Mumbai Indians, and Bumrah, in particular, has proved to be a match-winner. High-pressure situations in T20 cricket don’t intimidate the Indian players anymore and with the bat or with the ball, they have the personnel to win tightly-contested matches home or away.
Kohli is India’s current T20 captain, who has led India to seven victories in 12 matches in charge. When he took a sabbatical for the Sri Lanka series in India in 2017 and the Nidahas Trophy 2018, Rohit Sharma proved himself as an able leader, leading India to series victories and boosting his captaincy credentials as well. He has the highest win percentage of all Indian T20 captains to date, with 90.90%.