A captain is as good as his team, but not everyone can handle the pressure and expectations. The Indian Premier League (IPL) has seen some of the greatest cricketing minds marshal troops. Australian greats like Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist had their share of sunny days, while Indian legends like M. S. Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma went on to script history.
With the 14th edition of the world’s biggest cricketing carnival fast approaching, here’s a look at the eight captains who will be in charge of their respective sides.
M. S. Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings
One of the most successful and influential captains of all time, M. S, Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) association is well documented. Fondly called Thala in Tamil Nadu, Dhoni has captained Chennai to three IPL titles. While CSK won two consecutive titles in 2010 and 2011, the 2018 title win was a fairytale run as the team made a comeback into the IPL fold after serving a ban. Between 2008 and 2020, Dhoni has captained in 188 matches (CSK and Rising Pune Supergiants), winning 110 and losing 77 with a win percentage of 58.82. He also led the side to the final in 2019, where it finished runner-up to Mumbai Indians. However, it was a forgettable 2020 season for both CSK and Dhoni as the side failed to make the playoffs for the first time in IPL history. Dhoni managed just 200 runs from 14 matches with an unbeaten 47 being his highest. With the tournament back in India for the 2021 season, Dhoni will be hoping to get back his Midas touch!
Dhoni will hope to regain his Midas touch during IPL 2021. – SPORTZPICS/BCCI
Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians
Rohit Sharma is the most successful captain in the history of the IPL. He has led Mumbai India to five titles – in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. The Hitman has been in a rich vein of form with the bat and has led the side from the front with some match-winning contributions over the years. As captain from 2013-2020, Rohit has led Mumbai in 116 matches, with his side winning 68 and losing 44 matches. He has a 60.34 win percentage, and under his captaincy, Mumbai has played four tied matches. In the last edition, Sharma scored 332 runs at a strike rate of 127.69 with three half-centuries. With his side gunning for an unprecedented sixth IPL title, Sharma will aim for an encore.
Rohit Sharma led MI to a record fourth IPL title in 2020. – KVS Giri
Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers Bangalore
He is the most successful Indian Test captain ever in terms of victories, but an IPL title continues to elude Virat Kohli. One of the modern-day greats, Kohli owns numerous batting and captaincy records, but his Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has failed to lay its hands on the IPL trophy. As captain of RCB from 2011-2020, Kohli stands third to Dhoni with 55 wins from 125 matches. Under Kohli, RCB has lost 63 matches and tied three, with the remaining four yielding no results. He has a win percentage of 46.69. In the 2020 season, Kohli scored 466 runs in 15 matches with three half-centuries at a strike rate of 121.35.
Virat Kohli’s RCB is yet to win the IPL title. – IPL
David Warner, Sunrisers Hyderabad
One of the most flamboyant openers across formats, David Warner captained Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to its only IPL title in 2016. The Australian had an outstanding season that year, amassing 848 runs with nine half-centuries. Warner continued to dominate with centuries in the 2017 and 2019 seasons. After being banned from international cricket for his involvement in the sandpaper scandal, Warner was back as SRH captain in 2019 and continues to be the leader of the pack. In the previous IPL season in the United Arab Emirates, Warner led the Sunrisers to Qualifier 2, where his side lost to eventual finalist Delhi Capitals. With the bat, Warner scored 548 runs with four half-centuries at a strike rate of 134.64. As an IPL captain, Warner has won 34 times in 63 matches, losing 28 games with one tied match. He has a win percentage of 60.34.
David Warner led SRH to its maiden IPL title in 2016. – BCCI/IPL
K. L, Rahul, Punjab Kings
Stylish wicketkeeper-batsman K. L. Rahul was named captain of Kings XI Punjab in the 2020 edition after the outfit made some structural changes. In his maiden outing as skipper, Rahul had an outstanding season with the bat as he was the Orange Cap holder with 670 runs from 14 matches, including an unbeaten 132 – his highest score. With five half-centuries and a century, Rahul led from the front. But his team failed to make it to the playoffs despite winning five matches on the trot at the back end of the tournament. The India international will look to guide his team – renamed Punjab Kings this year – to at least the playoffs in the upcoming edition.
K.L. Rahul will hope to inspire Punjab Kings to its first-ever IPL title this season. – IPL
Rishabh Pant, Delhi Capitals
Rishabh Pant has been appointed the Delhi Capitals captain for the 2021 IPL after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled of the season due to a dislocated left shoulder he suffered during the ODI series against England. At 23, Pant will become the fifth-youngest captain in the IPL. Pant has only led Delhi in domestic cricket, but his phenomenal form during the historic Test series win in Australia, and the home series against England made him a frontrunner for the position. Delhi reached the IPL final last season, but Pant went through a lean patch, scoring just 342 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 114.
Rishabh Pant has been appointed the Delhi Capitals captain for the 2021 IPL. – IPL
Eoin Morgan, Kolkata Knight Riders
After designated skipper Dinesh Karthik stepped down midway through IPL 2020, Eoin Morgan was handed the charge of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Vice-captain Morgan, who led England to its maiden World Cup triumph in 2019, was a natural successor and scored 418 runs with one half-century last season. He has a 2-4 win/loss record in seven matches, with one tied. The upcoming season will be a test of his leadership skills.
KKR captain Eoin Morgan in action during the 2020 edition of the IPL. – FILE PHOTO/ BCCI
Sanju Samson, Rajasthan Royals
Kerala stumper-batsman Sanju Samson was named captain of Rajasthan Royals for the 2021 IPL season after regular skipper Steve Smith was released from the side. After Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane, Samson will be the third Indian to lead the team. It will be an added responsibility for Samson, who finished the 2020 season as the Royals’ highest run-getter, scoring 375 in 14 innings at a strike rate of 158. Rajasthan finished the 2020 season at the bottom of the points table, and it will be a challenge for Samson to lift the side from the dumps.
Rajasthan Royals will be led by wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson this season. – TWITTER/@IPL