Every cricketer's dream is to represent their country in Test match cricket. Once they are an established member of the Test team, the next ambition is to lead the nation in the longest version of the game.
A total of 33 cricketers have earned the privilege of captaining the Indian team in Test cricket. MS Dhoni holds the Indian record for the most Test matches as captain, having led the country on 60 occasions, followed by Virat Kohli with 55 Test matches as the Indian captain.
At the other end of the spectrum are players who have served Indian cricket for a long time but never got an opportunity to lead the country in Tests. On that note, let us have a look at the 5 Indian cricketers who have played the most Test matches without captaining the team.
5 Indian cricketers with the most Test caps without leading the country
#5: Syed Kirmani - 88 matches
Syed Kirmani is at the fifth position among Indian players to have played the most Test matches without captaining the country. The Karnataka wicket-keeper-batsman represented India in 88 Test matches.
Kirmani scored 2759 runs at an average of 27.04, including 2 centuries and 12 half-centuries. He also accounted for 198 dismissals comprising of 160 catches and 38 stumpings.
During his Test career spanning from 1976 to 1986, Syed Kirmani played under 4 Indian captains with Sunil Gavaskar (47 matches) captaining him for most encounters. Bishen Singh Bedi (22 matches), Kapil Dev (17 matches) and Gundappa Viswanath (2 matches) were the other captains under whom Kirmani demonstrated his skills behind the wickets.
Apart from these 88 Test matches, Syed Kirmani also represented India in 49 ODIs. The Chennai-born wicket-keeper-batsman scored 373 runs in these matches at an average of 20.72 while also effecting 36 dismissals comprising of 27 catches and 9 stumpings.
The greatest moment of glory in Syed Kirmani's illustrious career was winning the 1983 World Cup under the captaincy of Kapil Dev.
The Indian dressing room after victory in the 1983 World Cup final. Syed Kirmani is being presented with a Gordon's Gin award for the keeper of the tournament. This photo was sent to me by Steven Lynch (@AskStevenSport), visible at the back, who worked for MCC at the time pic.twitter.com/APaTpHDqbp— Historic Cricket Pictures (@PictureSporting) June 28, 2020
#4: Zaheer Khan - 92 matches
Zaheer Khan occupies the fourth spot among Indian players who have played the most Test matches without skippering the team. The Baroda seamer represented India in 92 Test matches.
Zaheer Khan scalped 311 wickets in these Test matches at an average of 32.94. He managed to take a 5-wicket haul on 11 occasions, with a best spell of 7/87 against Bangladesh at Dhaka in January 2010.
During his 14-year Test career, Zaheer Khan played under 5 Indian captains with Sourav Ganguly (36 matches) being his skipper for most encounters. The other captains under whom the left-arm seamer displayed his wares were MS Dhoni (31 matches), Rahul Dravid (14 matches), Anil Kumble (8 matches) and Virender Sehwag (3 matches).
Zaheer Khan also represented India in 200 ODIs and 17 T20Is, bagging 282 and 17 wickets respectively in the two formats.
Much like Kirmani, the highest point of Zaheer Khan's career was winning the 2011 World Cup, a tournament in which he also finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker.
#3: Ishant Sharma - 97 matches
Ishant Sharma has played the third-most Test matches without captaining the Indian team. The Delhi pacer has worn the Indian jersey in Test matches on 97 occasions to date.
Ishant Sharma has dismissed 297 batsmen in these Test matches at an average of 32.39. These wickets include eleven 5-wicket hauls with his best spell of 7/74 coming against England at Lord's in July 2014.
An active member of the Indian Test team for the last 14 overs, Ishant Sharma has played under 6 Indian captains with MS Dhoni (47 matches) leading him in the most encounters. The other captains under whom the lanky pacer has been an integral part of the Indian Test squad are Virat Kohli (36 matches), Anil Kumble (9 matches), Virender Sehwag (3 matches), Rahul Dravid (1 match) and Ajinkya Rahane (1 match).
Ishant Sharma has also played 80 ODIs and 14 T20Is for India in which he has scalped 115 and 8 wickets respectively.
Apart from his spell of 7/74 at Lord's that led India to a memorable victory, Ishant Sharma is most remembered for the manner in which he tormented Ricky Ponting in the Perth Test of 2008 before dismissing the great Aussie batsman.
#2: Harbhajan Singh - 103 matches
Harbhajan Singh occupies the second spot in the list of cricketers to have represented the Indian team in the most Test matches without captaining the country. The Punjab off-spinner has represented India in 103 Test matches.
Harbhajan Singh has got the better of 417 batsmen in these Test matches at an average of 32.46. He has managed to take a 5-wicket haul on 25 occasions with a best effort of 8/84 against Australia at Chennai in March 2001.
Apart from these wickets, the 40-year-old has also scored 2224 runs in Test cricket, including a couple of centuries.
Having played Test cricket for India between 1998 and 2015, Harbhajan Singh has been captained by 8 Indian captains with most of his games coming under Sourav Ganguly (37 matches). The other captains under whom the wily off-spinner spun a web are MS Dhoni (31 matches), Anil Kumble (12 matches), Rahul Dravid (11 matches), Mohammad Azharuddin (6 matches) apart from two matches each under Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli.
Harbhajan Singh also represented India in 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is, bagging 269 and 25 wickets respectively in the two formats.
Along with Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh was a member of India's 2011 World Cup-winning team, apart from being an integral part of India's 2007 T20 World Cup-winning squad.
But it was his series-clinching 32 wickets including a hat-trick in the 2001 Test series against Australia that brought him into the limelight.
Did you know that @harbhajan_singh took 29(!!) more wickets than any other Indian bowler in India's epic 2-1 series victory over Australia in 2001?— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 22, 2020
Harbhajan finished the series with 32 wickets, 29 more than Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan who each took three. pic.twitter.com/IYTxaxNkYz
#1: VVS Laxman - 134 matches
VVS Laxman holds the Indian record of having played the most Test matches without captaining the country. The Hyderabad batsman wielded his willow in 134 Test matches for India, the third-most for the country after Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
VVS Laxman amassed 8781 runs in these matches at an average of 45.97 with the memorable 281-run knock against Australia at Kolkata as his highest score. These runs include 17 centuries and 56 half-centuries.
Having played for India for more than 15 years, VVS Laxman played under 7 captains with Sourav Ganguly (43 matches) leading him in the most encounters. MS Dhoni (34 matches), Rahul Dravid (21 matches), Anil Kumble (14 matches), Sachin Tendulkar(12 matches), Mohammad Azharuddin (6 matches) and Virender Sehwag (4 matches) were the other Indian captains under whom he displayed his artistic strokeplay.
VVS Laxman also represented India in 86 ODIs, scoring 2338 runs at an average of 30.76. These runs include 6 centuries and 10 half-centuries.
The wristy right-hander is remembered for his innumerable classy innings in Test cricket, none more so than the epic 281 run-knock and the 376-run partnership with Rahul Dravid against Australia that engineered a dramatic comeback for India after having been asked to follow-on.
Ian Chappell to Shane Warne on VVS Laxman after his epic knock of 281 in Kolkata, 2001. pic.twitter.com/TRsaO9Dgfh— Cricketopia (@CricketopiaCom) November 1, 2018