From top (left to right): Virender Sehwag (DD), Anil Kumble (RCB), Rahul Dravid (RR), Bottom row (left to right): Rohit Sharma (MI), MS Dhoni (CSK) and Gautam Gambhir © AFP
From top (left to right): Virender Sehwag (DD), Anil Kumble (RCB), Rahul Dravid (RR),
Bottom row (left to right): Rohit Sharma (MI), MS Dhoni (CSK) and Gautam Gambhir © AFP

“It’s not a successful captain that makes a successful team,” was rightly said by Gautam Gambhir. And this was said after he lifted the maiden IPL title as a captain. Gambhir had led Delhi Daredevils (DD) prior to captaining Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Although he ensured DD won several matches under him, the side never managed to lift the IPL title. Indeed, several IPL franchises experimented with captains instead of sticking to big names.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) have stuck to their triumphant captains, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma. On the other hand, Steven Smith and David Warner’s bans means that both Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) needed replacement captains as well as players. SRH opted for Kane Williamson as their new captain (they also named a vice-captain — something IPL franchises rarely do — in Bhuvneshwar Kumar). As for RR, Ajinkya Rahane has taken over the mantle. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and DD have the Delhi boys to look up to — Virat Kohli and Gambhir. On the other hand, it will be testing time for Dinesh Karthik and Ravichandran Ashwin with KKR and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) respectively.

Ever wondered how many captains had each team had, and how have they fared? This article looks at the eight franchises and their luck with captains.

Kings XI Punjab: When KXIP formed a core unit after the 2018 auctions, they did not have an obvious leader (which they have not had for some time now) and no proper wicketkeeper. KXIP had contenders like Yuvraj Singh, David Miller and Aaron Finch, all of whom have captained in IPL earlier. However, they went for Ashwin in the end. Though a successful bowler, Ashwin’s overall leadership is restricted to just 15 Vijay Hazare Trophy matches and some local club matches. Perhaps his IPL nous could only be the guiding force here. Ashwin also has Yuvraj to turn to under whom KXIP have won 17 matches from 29.

As for the successful captains of KXIP from the previous seasons, here is the list:  

KXIP’s successful captains and records
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Yuvraj Singh 2008-2009 29 17 12 0 0 58.62
Adam Gilchrist 2011-2013 34 17 17 0 0 50
David Hussey 2012-2013 12 6 6 0 0 50
George Bailey 2014-2015 35 18 17 0 0 51.42
Glenn Maxwell 2017-2017 14 7 7 0 0 50

Delhi Daredevils: After all the shuffling, DD are back to Gambhir. Gambhir has a young brigade to take care of. He will have to mentor the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Manjot Kalra, Rishabh Pant and others. He comes with enormous captaincy experience (leading KKR to two IPL titles) He has Glenn Maxwell to assist him, who had a mixed IPL captaincy tenure with KXIP in the last edition. There is also Indian U-19 champion captain Shaw, in case Gambhir requires some fresh captaincy take.

In terms of best DD captain over a decade, Virender Sehwag holds top spot, captaining the side in 52 matches winning 28 times.

DD’s successful captains and records
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Virender Sehwag 2008-2012 52 28 24 0 0 53.84
Gautam Gambhir 2009-2010 19 11 8 0 0 57.89
Zaheer Khan 2016-2017 23 10 13 0 0 43.47
Karun Nair 2017-2017 3 2 1 0 0 66.66

#DoYouKnow Kevin Pietersen holds the worst record as DD captain? He had a solitary win to his name, and the team suffered 10 losses en route to their last position finish in a forgettable 2014.

Mumbai Indians: MI have not regretted the appointment of Rohit as captain. Under Rohit, MI has only seen an upsurge guiding the side to three IPL titles, the only team to achieve this feat. MI, however, are on back foot when it comes to a captain in absence of Rohit. Kieron Pollard seems to be the only man to go to. Pollard had stepped in Rohit’s shoes for 3 matches and had a forgettable stint. MI can, however, give a try to Aditya Tare, the Mumbai state captain.

From the list of previous best captains of MI, Sachin Tendulkar has been the most successful. The record speaks for itself:

MI’s successful captains and records
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Harbhajan Singh 2008-2012 30 14 14 0 2 50
Sachin Tendulkar 2008-2011 55 32 23 0 0 58.18
Rohit Sharma 2013-2017 80 49 30 1 0 61.87

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Founded in 2012 after Deccan Chargers were terminated, SRH did not do anything spectacular till Warner arrived. Warner has provided results, not only as captain but also emerging as the leading run-scorer among overseas cricketers in IPL history.

Williamson had to compete with Shikhar Dhawan and Shakib Al Hasan for the role of SRH captain. Dhawan comes with an experience of captaining SRH with a decent win percentage of 43.75. He was the India’s vice-captain during the Nidahas Trophy. Shakib, on the other hand, was recently appointed Bangladesh’s T20I captain; the Nidahas Trophy fiasco against Sri Lanka has perhaps turned the situation against him.

SRH’s successful captains and record
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Shikhar Dhawan 2013-2014 16 7 9 0 0 43.75
David Warner 2015-2017 45 26 19 0 0 57.77

Royal Challengers Bangalore: When Kohli was appointed captain, he had the task of captaining some huge names in cricket like Chris Gayle, Muttiah Muralitharan, Yuvraj and others. Kohli has captained RCB in 82 matches and holds win percentage of 49.39. Under him RCB have also reached the final in 2016 and playoffs in 2015.

If RCB need a replacement for any reason, AB de Villiers or Brendon McCullum can step in. McCullum has captained KKR in 13 times and Gujarat Lions (GL) once.

However, RCB have not enjoyed a great run with captains previously barring Anil Kumble and Daniel Vettori:

RCB’s successful captains and records
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Anil Kumble 2009-2010 35 19 16 0 0 54.28
Daniel Vettori 2011-2012 28 15 13 0 0 53.57
Virat Kohli 2011-2017 82 38 39 2 3 49.36

Trivia: In the only match McCullum led GL in the previous edition, they were thrashed by 144 runs by RCB. De Villiers and Kohli had hammered GL with their centuries.

Rajasthan Royals: RR are returning with a revamped image. It won’t be easy for them. They are returning from the match-fixing scandals and now they have lost Smith. They have now turned to Rahane.

Rahane has filled in for Smith once, for Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in the last edition. He also led India to a Test win in absence of Kohli, in a series decider against Australia last year. He also won the series against Zimbabwe with a second-string Indian team in 2015. He also has Kerala state captain Sanju Samson to assist him. RR has a story to offer when it comes to their successful captains previously:

RR’s successful captains and records
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Shane Warne 2008-2011 56 31 24 1 0 56.25
Shane Watson 2008-2015 21 7 11 2 1 40
Rahul Dravid 2012-2013 40 23 17 0 0 57.5
Steven Smith 2014-2015 8 6 2 0 0 75

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gambhir has left a legacy behind when it comes to KKR with two IPL titles under him. Karthik now has the responsibility to take it to a different level with the young team. This is not the first time Karthik is handling a team that was once led by Gambhir; during his DD days, Karthik had captained DD in 6 matches, winning twice.  

Karthik also has his U-17 days teammate and deputy Robin Uthappa to fall back to, who has been playing for KKR since 2014. There is also Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar.

Before Gambhir, KKR were led by Sourav Ganguly and McCullum. The records boast of only two successful captains for KKR:

KKR’s successful captains and records
Player Span M W L T NR Win %
Sourav Ganguly 2008-2010 27 13 14 0 0 48.14
Gautam Gambhir 2011-2017 122 69 51 1 1 57.43

Chennai Super Kings: CSK captaincy has been almost synonymous to Dhoni. From 152 matches Dhoni has won 92 and lost 58. And in case Dhoni is unavailable he has four former IPL captains under his side:

Options galore for CSK
Players Team Span M W L T NR Win %
Dwayne Bravo Mumbai Indians 2010-2010 1 0 1 0 0 0
Suresh Raina Chennai Super Kings 2010-2012 4 2 1 1 0 62.5
Murali Vijay Kings XI Punjab 2016-2016 8 3 5 0 0 37.5
Suresh Raina Gujarat Lions 2016-2017 29 13 15 1 0 46.55