IPL captains © IANS
(From top left) MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, David Warner, Shane Watson, George Bailey, and JP Duminy — the captains of IPL 2015 © IANS

The fixtures have been drawn. The teams have started with their practice sessions. Pubs and restaurants are ready with IPL-specific menus, “special offers,” and happy hours. Danny Morrison and his Double-Ds are all set to go. Cheerleaders have arrived. Floodlights have been tested. Cell-phones are ready for selfies from the gallery, as are fire-crackers to celebrate fours and wickets and “Maximums.”

Indian cricket’s mega-event is back, just over a week after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 final. Forgotten will be the rivalries. Glenn Maxwell and David Miller will become teammates. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will turn adversaries. Mitchell Starc will be semi-forgotten during his temporary absence. Sunil Narine will come to forefront again. And, in all probability, the world will get another stint of Ravi Shastri behind the microphone. IPL 2015: Top 5 ICC Cricket World Cup successes to watch out

What about the captains — men who will lead their sides out to the middle? Of the eight captains in the tournament, MS Dhoni (twice), Gautam Gambhir (twice), and Rohit Sharma are the only ones to have won the Indian Premier League (IPL). Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist, the other winners, will not be here. The other five — Virat Kohli, David Warner, Shane Watson, George Bailey, and JP Duminy — are yet to taste success. IPL 2015: Top 10 veterans who have done consistently well since IPL 2008

Dhoni has been leading Chennai Super Kings (CSK) since the creation of the world. His penchant for winning big tournaments is well-known: he has won all three ICC tournaments along with IPL (in 2010 and 2011) and Champions League T20 (CLT20) twice as well. Additionally, Dhoni will benefit from the fact that CSK have retained their nucleus over years. One of the most feared finishers in limited-overs format and blessed with an unflappable temperament, MSD has been synonymous with Indian cricket in more ways than one over the past decade. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in IPL 2015: Kings of consistency look to rule again

Bailey had an exceptional season for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), leading them to the final in his first season as KXIP captain. A lot will be expected of Bailey’s men, for they have some of the most explosive hitters, best fielders, and wily bowlers. Bailey himself can take to insane hitting — even off Dale Steyn — often taking the opposition by surprise. Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2015 Preview: IPL 7 runners-up will look to continue good form in IPL 8

Rohit had taken over the responsibilities of Mumbai Indians (MI) from Ricky Ponting after the latter stood down midway during IPL 2013. He went on to win the IPL in his first stint as captain, backing it with a CLT20 title. Beginner’s luck? IPL 2015 will tell the story. Watch out for his explosive batting: he has scored a World Cup hundred last month, and does anyone really need a reminder of those two double-tons? Mumbai Indians in IPL 2015: Rohit Sharma’s men approach upcoming season with renewed vigour to regain lost glory

For Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Gambhir had started off with a bang. He led KKR — who had never as much as made it to the top four in the first four editions — to IPL triumph in 2012, and had an encore in 2014. With an eye on a comeback to the national side, Gambhir will a man to look out for in IPL 2015. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL 2015, Preview: A well-balanced unit with a hunger for success

Kohli had been drafted in as India’s stopgap Test captain this season following Dhoni’s shock retirement, and there is every reason to believe that he will be the full-time successor. However, he needs to prove a thing or two as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain: with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, and himself with the bat and Starc (once fit) and Adam Milne with the ball, the time is ripe for Kohli to deliver the goods. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in IPL 2015: Best chance for franchise to scalp maiden title

Delhi Daredevils (DD) have been the worst performers in recent years. However, with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Angelo Mathews, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, and Quinton de Kock, a new-look DD will take field this time. The onus will be on Duminy (who has led in only four T20 matches), perhaps the most underrated of contemporary cricketers, to maintain a low profile and bring out the best of these senior men. His ability to implode with the bat at will or break crucial partnerships will come handy throughout the tournament. Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2015: Fresh team set sights on bigger awards

If one goes by names, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have one of the strongest sides despite being one of the most low-profile ones. Warner, never known as a great leader of men, will have an exciting new-ball attack (Dale Steyn, Trent Boult, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Ishant Sharma) at his disposal; all he needs to do is to harness them properly. A lot will depend on Warner the destructive opener, but more on Warner the captain — an aspect that remains untested.

Finally, Rajasthan Royals (RR) and another Shane: while he was around, Shane Warne was synonymous to RR as captain and coach, and once he quit Rahul Dravid took over. The RR principal of choosing performers over stars remains intact, though Steven Smith, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, and Tim Southee have all developed into stars over the past two years. In Rajat Bhatia and Stuart Binny they have two very potent all-rounders to go with Watson and Faulkner, which means RR will bat deep and have plenty of bowlers at their disposal. It may not seem so, but Watson may suffer from the enviable problem of plenty.

IPL 2015 captains: Overall T20 careers

Player

 

M

R

SR

W

Econ

C/S

MS Dhoni

CSK

191

4,036

136.6

12.50

92/42

Rohit Sharma

MI

186

4,613

130.1

29

7.80

81

David Warner

SRH

180

5,269

141.2

13.00

83

JP Duminy

DD

175

4,284

121.0

54

7.48

61

Gautam Gambhir

KKR

174

4,446

121.8

36

Virat Kohli

RCB

157

4,298

128.5

7

8.75

69

Shane Watson

RR

143

3,752

141.0

115

7.36

43

George Bailey

KXIP

107

1,954

134.0

12.00

48

All eight captains have had significant experiences, playing over a hundred matches each. Keeping in tune with the bias of the world of cricket towards the bat, six (Rohit, Warner, Duminy, Gambhir, Kohli, and Bailey) are specialist batsmen. As for the other two, they include a wicket-keeper (Dhoni) and an all-rounder (Watson), both of whom are explosive batsmen. IPL 2015: CSK, KKR, RCB, KXIP, MI, RR, SRH, DD full team details in IPL 8

IPL 2015 captains: Success as captains

Player

 

M

W

L

T

NR

W/L

Rohit Sharma

MI

33

21

12

0

1.750

Gautam Gambhir

KKR

106

63

41

1

1

1.537

MS Dhoni

CSK

186

109

72

2

3

1.514

George Bailey

KXIP

80

45

33

1

1

1.364

Virat Kohli

RCB

40

19

18

2

1

1.056

Shane Watson

RR

14

5

8

1

0

0.625

David Warner

SRH

3

1

2

0

0.500

JP Duminy

DD

4

1

3

0

0.333

Dhoni is the most experienced captain (he has led his side in 186 of the 191 T20 matches he has played). In terms of success rate, Rohit (1.75) and Gambhir (1.54) have better win-loss ratios than Dhoni (1.51). IPL 2015 Previews

An intriguing aspect is the number of matches led by Watson, Warner, and Duminy. Between them they have led in a mere 21 T20 matches, winning seven and losing 13. As of now, things do not look too rosy for RR, SRH, and DD. The other five men all have win-loss ratios over 1. Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 schedule: IPL 8 match time table with venue details