Since playing their first-ever T20 International in December 2006 against South Africa, the Indian cricket team has had a total of nine players captaining the side in the shortest format.

Of those nine players, only three have led the team in more than 10 T20Is, namely MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Hence, considering the mentioned three - cap of min 10 matches as captain - Rohit Sharma remains the most successful T20I captain of India, having won 29 of the 35 matches he has appeared as a skipper.

With a win percentage of 82.85, the opener is significantly ahead of Dhoni (59.28%) and Kohli (64.58).

Meanwhile, the first player to captain India in a T20 match was former opening batter Virender Sehwag. Under his captaincy, India defeated South Africa by six wickets. Dinesh Karthik is the only player from that team who is still active in international cricket.

That match in Johannesburg was the only time Sehwag captained India in the shortest format.

From 2007 onwards, MS Dhoni took the reins and guided India to the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 glory, beating Pakistan by five runs. MS Dhoni’s reign as India’s T20 captain lasted nine years where he won 41 of the 72 matches while losing 28.

Dhoni was supposed to make his captaincy debut against Scotland during the T20 World Cup but destiny had something interesting to offer. As the Scotland match was washed off due to rain, Dhoni led India for the first time in a T20I match against arch-rivals Pakistan.

As the match could not have a winner in regulation overs, it was eventually decided in the historic bowl-out, which India won 3-0.

During Dhoni’s time as captain, the likes of Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane played a combined five matches as captain. Raina led the team in three T20Is, winning all of them, while Rahane was made captain twice where he won one and lost one.

After Dhoni decided to step down in 2016, Kohli took over the job and a tenure that spanned between 2017 and 2021 saw India winning 30 of the 50 matches where he stepped on as a skipper. 

Post 2020, India has had three more players leading the side in the shortest format apart from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, namely, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya.

Most successful T20I captain of India

Player Span Matches Won Lost Tie NR Win%
Rohit Sharma 2017-present 35 29 6 0 0 82.85
Virat Kohli 2017-2021 50 30 16 0 2 64.58
MS Dhoni 200-2016 72 41 28 2 2 59.28

*min 10 matches as captain

Full list of India’s T20I captains

Player Span Matches Won Lost Tie NR Win%
Virender Sehwag 2006 1 1 0 0 0 100
MS Dhoni 2007-2016 72 41 28 1 2 59.28
Suresh Raina 2010-2011 3 3 0 0 0 100
Ajinkya Rahane 2015 2 1 1 0 0 50
Virat Kohli 2017-2021 50 30 16 2 2 64.58
Rohit Sharma 2017-present 35 29 6 0 0 82.85
Shikhar Dhawan 2021 3 1 2 0 0 33.33
Rishabh Pant 2022 5 2 2 0 1 50
Hardik Pandya 2022 3 3 0 0 0 100

Featured photo: AFP / Randy Brooks