The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one such cricket league which can be extremely exhausting as a player. There is a lot of travelling, plenty of high-pressure games and of course, the pressure of expectations. While the tournament demands a lot from a player, it is much more challenging if you are the captain. Captains are always under the scanner.
Every move of theirs is watched and analysed closely by millions across the globe. Despite all this, a few have excelled in their roles and performed extremely well. At the same time, some of the international reputed captains have struggled to meet the demands of the league. They have failed to carry the expectations and faltered under immense pressure.
Here is the rating for ten of the best captains for their performance in the IPL:
10. Sourav Ganguly – 3.5/10
Sourav Ganguly might have been a great captain for Team India. He helped bring the side out of a crisis situation and build up players for the future. Under his leadership, the side registered some of the most memorable victories including the Natwest Series.
However, Ganguly hasn’t had the same kind of success in the IPL. The ‘Prince of Kolkata’ was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the start of the league. With players like Brendon McCullum, Ishant Sharma, Chris Gayle amongst many others at his disposal, there were a few miracles expected of him.
But, Dada couldn’t really make an impact. In the first three years, KKR finished 6th, 8th and 6th out of 8 teams. After he was released from the KKR squad, he had a brief stint with the Pune Warriors as well but didn’t find any success. Out of 42 games, Sourav only managed to win 17 and lost 25.
9. Adam Gilchrist – 6/10
In the first edition of the IPL, the Deccan Chargers didn’t have a great start. The team played first six games under VVS Laxman and won only one. Then, Adam Gilchrist replaced VVS as the skipper. Yet, that move didn’t work either with the Australian winning only one match out of eight. However, the management kept enough faith in him and gave Adam Gilchrist another opportunity in the next season.
This time, he didn’t disappoint at all and worked miracles. With more or less the same team, he made the best possible use of his resources. He gauged the conditions in South Africa really well and picked his players accordingly. He always showed great faith in them. As a result, the team emerged as the champions in the season.
From being last in 2008 to being first in 2009, Adam Gilchrist had a huge role as the skipper of the side. He led them from the front. In 2010 as well, the team reached the semi-final. Gilchrist later joined the Kings XI Punjab towards the twilight of his career but didn’t find a great deal of success. In 74 games, Adam Gilchrist won 35 and lost 39.
8. Shane Warne – 6.5/10
The first captain ever to have got his hands on the IPL trophy was none other than Shane Warne. He had quite a young side when he started off his IPL journey. However, he managed to inspire this team like no one else ever can.
Warne always backed his players and was in the face of the opposition with his fierce, aggressive captaincy. He is definitely one of the best captains ever in the IPL. The victory in 2008 is largely credited to him as he was fearless and always calm in testing situations. Beating a side like CSK in the final was quite a commendable effort from him and his boys.
However, in the following season, RR missed the likes of Shane Watson and Sohail Tanvir. They finished 6th on the points table. The next two seasons weren’t encouraging either as an ageing Shane Warne couldn’t make an impact. In 2010, the side finished 7th and in 2011, they settled with the 6th spot out of 10 teams. The leg-spinner won 30 games out of 55.
7. Sachin Tendulkar – 7/10
In the first edition of the IPL, Sachin Tendulkar was injured in the early parts of the tournament. Shaun Pollock and Harbhajan Singh led the team in his absence. He came back at a critical juncture and the team won three games in a row. However, they succumbed to pressure towards the end of the tournament leading to a huge disappointment.
In 2009, Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t really inspire his troops as they exited the tournament in the league stages itself. However, in 2010, he was at his best with the bat and led them from the front. The team did exceptionally well to reach the finals but lost to the Chennai Super Kings.
Mumbai reached the playoffs in 2011 but couldn’t get the trophy once again. It was at this point in time when Sachin Tendulkar decided to step down. However, he has got a pretty solid record as the leader of the side with 30 wins in 51 games.
6. Gautam Gambhir – 8/10
After playing the initial few seasons for the Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), Gautam Gambhir switched bases to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2011. The left-hander first led the Delhi franchise in 2009. The team tasted great success under his leadership.
They even finished at the top of the points table but lost to Deccan Chargers in the semi-final. After the team finished 5th in 2010, Gambhir moved to Kolkata. With his brilliant leadership, he built a team for the future. They scouted great talent from all around the world and the results were evident.
KKR emerged as the champions in 2012 and 2014. However, after the 2014 triumph, Gauti didn’t have a great deal of success. He played his final season for the Delhi franchise once again. But he stepped down in between the season after a poor start. In 129 matches where he was the captain, Gambhir managed to get over the line on 71 occasions.
5. Kane Williamson – 8.5/10
Kane Williamson has been associated with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for a long while. However, the team never required his services much and for most of the initial seasons, he was just warming the bench. Ahead of the 2018 season, many were unsure if even he’d be picked in the auction. However, SRH decided to go ahead with him and got him at a great bargain price.
The New Zealand skipper, not known for his T20 heroics, was gearing up for yet another boring season. With the kind of combinations, SRH had, him breaking into the side was extremely difficult. But just about a couple of weeks before the league, David Warner got banned after the ball-tampering saga. Out of nowhere, Kane had to take up the responsibility – something he’d never done before in the IPL.
It was a massive challenge for him. But boy! How well has he performed? He unearthed a completely different version of him with the bat and was extremely smart as a leader. His crafty tactics landed SRH in the final but the team couldn’t defeat CSK after a Shane Watson special. Williamson did a fair job in 2019 as well but didn’t lead in all the games. Out of 26 matches, SRH won 14 under Williamson.
4. David Warner – 8.5/10
From being a ‘Bull’ back during his early days to evolving as the ‘Reverend’, David Warner has surely come a long way. There have been a few blips in his career in the last year but he continues to be one of the most important members of the SRH and Australia teams. Warner can largely accredit his successful transformation to the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
He is a completely different player – full of determination, hunger and passion – as soon as he dons the Orange jersey. After a lot of experimentation, SRH went ahead with David Warner as the captain in 2015. The left-hander ensured that he didn’t let the management regret their decision. He has led SRH from the front quite literally with his batting.
His energy on the field is infectious and has clearly rubbed off on the other players as well. The 2016 season might be remembered for Virat Kohli’s superman efforts but David Warner performed just as well. He led the team to its maiden title in the season and was highly impressive in 2017 also. He is a shrewd tactician and a complete team man. Warner won 25 out of 47 games when he led the team.
3. Rohit Sharma – 9/10
Despite having all the ingredients to become a successful team, the Mumbai Indians (MI) couldn’t get their hands on the silverware. At least not until Rohit Sharma took the charge and channelled all the energy in the right direction. From 2013, the ‘Hitman‘ has completely turned around the fortunes of the team.
Rohit is a master at making the best use of his resources. He somehow manages to find the right combinations for the team. On many occasions, the Mumbai Indians rose up from the ashes under his leadership. No other captain won as many IPL titles as the Indian opener.
Under him, Mumbai Indians emerged champions in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Rohit’s win percentage of 58.65 is only lesser than Steve Smith, MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar amongst the captains who led in a minimum of 25 games. In 104 matches, Rohit won 60 games.
2. Steve Smith – 9/10
When a minimum of 25 games as captain is put as a criterion, no other captain has got a better winning percentage than Steve Smith. A calming influence on the field, Steve Smith is another one of those captains who exactly knows how to use his resources in the best possible manner.
Through his IPL career, Steve Smith has captained three teams – Pune Warriors, Rising Pune Supergiant and the Rajasthan Royals. He led all these three sides. However, his stint as the first-choice skipper came with the Pune franchise in 2017 when he took over from MS Dhoni. In that season, the former Australian captain led the team to the final with his inspirational leadership.
However, his side lost to Mumbai Indians in the final by a whisker. Later, after Rajasthan Royals was reinstated, he missed out the 2018 season. But he made his comeback in 2019. After a few games, he was also made the captain of the side. In 25 games, Steve Smith lost just 8 matches which is just terrific.
1. MS Dhoni – 9.5/10
There are captains who dream of leading their teams in at least 100 games in the IPL. And then there is MS Dhoni who has got 104 wins alone, forget about the games. Amongst the captains who led in 50 games or more, MS Dhoni has got the best winning percentage – 60.11. The wicket-keeper batsman only lost 69 games out of 174 and has set quite a legacy for the Chennai Super Kings.
While every IPL team gears up to try and qualify for the playoffs, CSK and Dhoni prepare themselves for the final. Since the inception of the league, CSK under Dhoni has made it into the playoffs/semi-final on every single occasion. Each and every time the league was played in India, the team managed to enter the final. Furthermore, he won the title three times.
MS Dhoni has not always had the best team. But the way he has made use of his options is exceptional and a lesson for any youngster. He is street-smart and knows what the demands of this league are. His only blip as captain came when he left CSK and led Rising Pune Supergiant. That was the only time his side didn’t make it into the playoffs and finished last second. The next year, he was also sacked of captaincy despite his wonderful record over the years.
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