When the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 began, a loss of Mumbai Indians (MI) or Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was shrugged off as just a “slow start“. But as it ends, we see the two most successful sides in the business of franchise cricket leaving the stage rather ingloriously, languishing at the end of the IPL 2022 points table with two matches each to play. The best they can hope for is possibly climb up the table a little and leave the rock-bottom spots. Otherwise, their IPL 2022 is done and dusted. Comes as a major shock to their fans and franchise owners, but this demise may well be a sign of things to come.

The message seems to be clear the time for the new leaders is approaching.

Let’s begin with CSK. Their decision to make Ravindra Jadeja the captain for IPL 2022 went down in flames before they could even draw their breath, so inevitably, they went back to MS Dhoni.

The change in attitude was evident immediately, but they had left their charge way too late and the final nail the coffin was the unspectacular collapse against an equally beleaguered MI.

Dhoni’s credentials as skipper are beyond doubt, and once he reharnessed himself, the CSK fans were even beginning to believe that they could somehow make it through. But even Dhoni can’t play for everyone and the results were out to see.

For MI, Rohit Sharma has had a nightmare which continues. Eight matches lost on the trot effectively ended their campaign. They rallied valiantly under the circumstances, but it just wasn’t enough.

The message seems to be, it is now time for the new leaders to take over.

Hardik Pandya has led Gujarat Titans to the qualifiers, while KL Rahul‘s Lucknow Super Giants are almost set to join him. Among the other hopefuls are Rajasthan Royals with Sanju Samson at the helm and Delhi Capital with Rishabh Pant leading.

It could be that the new captains don’t follow set rules, or equally, it could be that some of them have ideas which work better. We could also attribute all of it to luck, but that doesn’t carry you through a testing series of 14 matches.

Of this new lot, KL Rahul possibly is the most visionary and he surely looks good enough to lead India as well some time soon. We have a new captain for India, but that is a situation that could change drastically if things don’t go India’s way for this year, and possibly one more.

So, then it would come back to choosing who will be the new leader, and if Rahul can deliver with the bat as he as in the IPL, as well as in terms of results, he surely must be up there.

Pant has been for the past couple of years touted as the future India skipper but his leadership qualities have shown cracks when the chips are down, and he hasn’t done himself any favours with his petulance as DC captain.

Pandya, one would like to believe, would rather be the carefree cricketer bereft of such responsibilities, while Samson has to first get into the India team on a regular basis.

But there is no doubt that the successes of failures of teams in IPL 2022 have a long-term impact on who are the leaders of the near future and as the picture develops, we can see some defined faces.

(The article was first published on india.com)