Ponting, Gilchrist and Sangakkara bring huge value to their respective teams even when not in the playing XI

The three captains who dropped themselves from playing XI (from left) Ricky Ponting of Mumbai Indians, Adam Gilchrist of Kings XI Punjab and Kumar Sangakkara from Sunrisers Hyderabad © IANS

By Abhijit Banare

For the first time in six editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), four overseas players captaining the franchisees — Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Angelo Mathews — have given up their place in the playing eleven due to their below-par performances.

Experienced players like Sangakkara, Ponting and Gilchrist still have a lot to offer to their respective teams even while not in the respective playing elevens. Their mere presence a cricketing acumen in taking charge of any situation brings huge value to the team.

An exception to this is Angelo Mathews. The Sri Lankan all-rounder can’t be blamed since it is too early days to question his leadership skills. Moreover, Pune Warriors’ shoddy form, despite having enough match-winners, further pushes them out of the equation. Their exit from play-off contention makes the captaincy more irrelevant. Aaron Finch, taking over the reins from Mathews, has been in good form, but his appointment as a captain is due to lack of any other option. Finch, in fact, was a last-minute inclusion in the squad, following Michael Clarke withdrawal from the tournament due to back injury.

However there is a significant difference in the impact the poor performance of the aforementioned three captains has had on the team and their roles in the remainder of the season.

What do they have to offer?

Ponting is fortunate to be surrounded by senior mentors like John Wright, Anil Kumble, Jonty Rhodes and not to forget Sachin Tendulkar. The meticulous planning while bowling to Chris Gayle and other Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batsmen is a classic example that planning for a T20 game is often prepared off the field, and Ponting surely must have had a say in it. Ponting still seems to be in control over the pre-match planning, which is being effectively executed by Rohit Sharma and thus hogging the credits for his team’s victories. Among the four teams, only Mumbai have benefited from their skipper’s absence, with replacement Dwayne Smith doing a fantastic job at the top.

However, it hasn’t been an easy transition for Kumar Sangakkara. In his absence, neither Quinton de Kock clicked with the bat nor did Cameroon White who assumed the role of captaincy have done anything of note. This has eventually resulted in a roller-coaster ride with Sangakkara returning to the team and backing himself to come good. From here on, it is unlikely that Hyderabad will shuffle its captains with just six games left. Hyderabad, with 12 points, are in contention for the play-offs. Sangakkara has no option but to lead a team which has sailed through with its strong bowling.

Similar to Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist heads a team which has a larger presence of uncapped players and a measured pool of star overseas players. As a result, the former Australian ‘keeper tried to push himself to do well. Now that Shaun Marsh has recovered from his injury, Gilchrist will have absolutely no hesitation in keeping himself away from the playing XI. As mentioned earlier, since the team has many uncapped players, Gilchrist’s role as a mentor will assume more importance than being a player.

Unlike other formats of the game, T20 does not allow time for a player to settle down. There is very little margin for failures and the pressure is immense on the player, especially given the fact that they are working in a corporate-like environment. And in the merciless corporate world, accountability is the single biggest factor for survival. Your reputation means nothing if you cannot produce the desired results.