Steve smith

Rajasthan Royals (RR) began their eighth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) under the leadership of Steve Smith, who was a stand-in captain and filling in for fellow Australian Shane Watson. Smith guided them to a couple of good wins in the first few matches and they were the table toppers for most of the season. When Watson returned back from the injury, he was handed over the reins but the side has been inconsistent since then.


Last Sunday, Smith, who led RR to their first four consecutive wins, was handed over captaincy in hope of change of fortunes. It worked as with a thrilling win over Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, the Royals just managed to scrape through to the play-offs. Suvajit Mustafi looks at instances in IPL when sides changed captains midway.


1:  Adam Gilchrist replaces VVS Laxman as Deccan Chargers captain in 2008


Laxman wasn’t really suited for the Twenty20 version of the game and he set a great precedent when he refused to be the Hyderabad franchise’s icon player so that they could have a larger purse at auction and buy more players. After a couple of ordinary outings under Laxman in the inaugural edition, Gilchrist took over as the captain. Though they ended last in 2008, the side under Gilchrist went on to win the tournament in 2009.


2:  Anil Kumble replaces Kevin Pietersen as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain in 2009

Anil Kumble

After a dismal first edition in IPL, RCB bought Pietersen for a whopping US $ 1.55 million. The English star replaced Rahul Dravid as the skipper, but that didn’t change the side’s fortunes. KP didn’t score enough runs and RCB were floundering at the bottom of the table. KP then left for national duties and Kumble was named the captain. Under Kumble, the side saw a remarkable turnaround and played some inspiring cricket. From bottom of the table, they ended as runners-up, losing the final by only six runs.


3:  Sachin Tendulkar steps down as Harbhajan Singh takes over as Mumbai Indians captain in 2012


In 2011, stand-in Mumbai Indians skipper Harbhajan, who filled for an injured Tendulkar, led the side to a Champions League Twenty20 title. But when the IPL resumed next year, the batting maestro retained captaincy. On the eve of the first match, Tendulkar stepped down saying he needed a break from the responsibilities of a captain and handed over the reins to Harbhajan.



4:  Daniel Vettori steps down as Virat Kohli takes over as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain in 2012


Vettori was struggling with his form and in a selfless move he decided to pass on the baton to Kohli. IPL allows only four foreign players in the playing eleven and Vettori’s move ensured that they could play the best four.



5:  Kumar Sangakkara steps down as Cameron White takes over as Deccan Chargers captain in 2012


Sangakkara was going through a rough patch with the bat and also his stints as IPL skipper had been pretty frustrating. Like Vettori, Sanga too wanted the four in-form foreign players to play in the side and also got himself dropped as White took over the reins.



6:  Ricky Ponting steps down as Rohit Sharma takes over as Mumbai Indians captain in 2013


The current coach of Mumbai Indians, Ponting was bought by the franchise in 2013 and named the skipper. Ponting, in fact opened the batting with Tendulkar and the pair termed as ‘Pondulkar’ created a lot of hype but couldn’t deliver. Ponting’s poor form wasn’t helping the side and he decided to drop himself, passing the baton to Rohit Sharma. The decision proved to be a masterstroke as the latter went on to lead MI to their maiden IPL title.



7:  Darren Sammy replaces Shikhar Dhawan as the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain in 2014


Dhawan had a good run with the franchise in their inaugural year in 2013 when they finished fourth, however in the following year, a string of loses made the management replace him with Sammy, who is the T20 captain for West Indies and had led them to a World T20 title in 2012.



8:  Steve Smith replaces Shane Watson as the Rajasthan Royals captain in 2015

Steve smith

Smith is termed as the next Australian skipper and is hailed as a thinking cricketer. He was one of Australia’s heroes in their World Cup triumph earlier this year and in absence of Watson, he led RR to four consecutive wins making them table toppers. Since Watson’s return, they haven’t been able to replicate the consistency and were on a brink of exit from the tournament. The franchise seemed to have lost patience with Watson and decided to hand over the captaincy armband to a younger Smith. It worked as RR beat KKR in a thrilling contest ofSaturday to make it to the play-offs and Watson was seen playing more freely without the leadership burden. In the end it was his century that made the difference.



(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades , all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)


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