By Avinash Kr Atish
Mumbai, May 19 (IANS): Over the years IPL has either built or damaged the reputations of many captains and this season of the cash-rich league is no different, as Hardik Pandya impressed with his leadership skill on his captaincy debut while veterans like Rohit Sharma and Kane Williamson failed to inspire their teams with their own performances.
In the history of IPL, there have been many great skippers who have led their teams to titles on different occasions. Rohit Sharma (5 titles with Mumbai Indians), M.S Dhoni (4 titles with Chennai Super Kings) and Gautam Gambhir (2 titles with Kolkata Knight Riders) have been the most successful captains in the history of IPL.
On the other hand, the likes of Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and David Warner have each won the IPL once for Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. However, there have been many cricketers, who have a superb record while leading the side in the international arena but they failed to win titles for their teams in the cash-rich league.
The likes of Virat Kohli, Sourav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting, Kane Williamson, Darren Sammy and others have been great captains for their national teams but they couldn't produce the same success in IPL, which clearly shows that leading a team in the world's most competitive cricket league has never been easy.
In the ongoing season of IPL, there are a few skippers who have impressed everyone with their leadership qualities while many of them couldn't perform as per expectations. With four more matches to go, IANS evaluates the performances of these star captains.
Hardik impresses on debut
Ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction, the new franchise, Gujarat Titans picked Hardik Pandya via the draft and named him captain of the side. However, there were doubts over Pandya's bowling fitness as well as his captaincy skills, given that he had led only once in senior cricket previously.
But Pandya has put an end to all such doubts and under his captaincy, Gujarat became the first team to qualify for the IPL 2022 playoffs. GT are currently leading the standings with 20 points and they have already booked their place in Qualifier 1 as no other team could displace them from the top two.
In four out of five games he played before hurting his hamstring, Pandya bowled his full quota of four overs. In three of those games, he opened the bowling along with Shami, twice picking up a wicket in his first over. And as captain, he has usually got his basics right, rotated bowlers well, selected the playing XI well, and kept his calm on most occasions under pressure situations. Many GT players also spoke about how Hardik along with head coach Ashish Nehra has kept the dressing room relaxed.
The star all-rounder has bowled very less, keeping his fitness in mind and picked only 4 wickets but he has shouldered the responsibility with the bat at the top-order, scoring 351 runs in 12 matches. All in all, Hardik has led from the front in each department for Gujarat.
On the other hand, there has been a change of fortunes for K.L Rahul, who is leading Lucknow Super Giants this season, after captaining Punjab Kings for a few years. There has been some debate among experts, and fans about Rahul's strike rate but no one doubts his consistency in scoring runs. The stylish opener has scored 537 runs in the 14 matches and led his side to the playoffs in the ongoing IPL season.
Rahul is the only second player to score more than 500 runs in five successive editions after David Warner, who did so in six. Apart from his batting, the cricketer has also impressed everyone with his captaincy this season.
During his previous stint as Punjab skipper, Rahul lost many close matches and he was criticised for his on-field tactics. However, this season, he has used his resources pretty well and managed to hold his nerves and get the best out of his team under tense situations.
Meanwhile, Sanju Samson has also led Rajasthan Royals well this season. Apart from his batting, where he has scored 359 runs in 13 matches, Samson has shown maturity while leading the side on the field. The stylish batter has also got good support from the senior pros and Rajasthan have played like a collective unit this season. Already qualified for the playoffs, the Royals need to beat Chennai Super Kings to secure second place and have two shots at reaching the IPL final.
Pant shows improvement, Mayank struggles, average start for Shreyas, Du Plessis at new teams
Though Rishabh Pant hasn't been at his best with the bat, he has managed to handle off-field issues with maturity. Delhi have been affected by Covid-19, the absence of their key players at different stages of the ongoing league but Pant has never complained about it and instead has asked his team to focus on things, which are in their control.
The 24-year-old batter has failed to convert his starts to big innings, scoring 301 runs in 13 matches, which has also affected Delhi's campaign. Despite having an inconsistent run, Delhi are on the verge of the IPL 2022 playoffs qualification. They need to beat Mumbai Indians in their last game to qualify.
However, another talented Indian cricketer Mayank Agarwal, who is leading Punjab Kings on his IPL captaincy debut, has looked under tremendous pressure. Agarwal, who has had a horrible season with the bat, demoted himself in the batting order but it didn't help much as he has scored just 195 runs in 12 matches. Agarwal-led Punjab have 12 points in 13 games and they need to win their last game and expect other results to go their way.
On the other hand, Shreyas Iyer, who led Delhi Capitals till last season, was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders at the auction and named the captain of the side as well. However, the Iyer-led KKR struggled to find their best combination till the last game and were eventually knocked out from the playoffs race, with 12 points in 14 matches. Iyer scored 401 runs in 14 matches foR KKR.
Meanwhile, Faf du Plessis, who played for CSK till the last season, was named the captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, ahead of the season. Du Plessis started the season on a high note but struggled to score consistently in the latter part of the tournament. However, the Proteas cricketer, who has scored 399 runs in 13 matches, has led his side well and RCB still have a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
Rohit, Williamson, and Jadeja-Dhoni fail to deliver
The 2020 IPL season has been a nightmare for veteran captains like Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson, and even M.S Dhoni, who took the reins at the halfway stage.
The 35-year-old Sharma, who is the most successful captain in the IPL with five trophies, has been far from his best with both bat as well as in captaincy. The opener has scored only 266 runs in 13 matches and also made many tactical errors on the field as well in team selection as Mumbai were the first team to get eliminated from the playoffs race.
On the other hand, Williamson also struggled to perform with the bat, scored just 216 runs in 13 matches, and failed to inspire his teammates this season. The Kiwi cricketer has flown back to New Zealand for the birth of his second child and will miss Hyderabad's last league match against Punjab Kings on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja, who took the CSK captaincy from Dhoni before the start of the season, seemed under immense pressure and it affected all three aspects of his game. And as a result, he relinquished captaincy after CSK lost six out of their first eight matches. Under Dhoni's captaincy, CSK have won 2 in 5, but they are already out of the playoffs race.