In any sport, the leader of a team has a massive role to perform, over and above performing the routine duties as a member of the team. He will be held accountable even if one player fails and team loses because of him. How the players of the team perform rests partly on the shoulders of the captain.
How the team performs as a collective unit rests on the Team Captain’s shoulders.
In T20 Cricket, the momentum shifts are quick, often within a single over. Being able to strategize and adapt during the game time, is what is expected from the Captain.
Today, we are talking about such captain in IPL who have risen to the occasion and motivated the every player from their respective teams to give their absolute best.
1. Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royals
Shane Warne was chosen to lead the most underwhelming side in Rajasthan Royals on papers in the inaugural edition of the league. In 2002, Warne got overlooked as the captain of his National Team, with his younger team mate Ricky Ponting taking charge. With RR, he got the chance to show his prowess as a team leader. The individuals he got as part of the team seemed like a let down for his fans. The first match they played ended in a big loss to Delhi Daredevils.
However, Warne is a man who never gives in. Slowly but surely, the Rajasthan Royals were making a name for themselves by beating one good team after another. Not getting big names turned out to be an advantage.
The players would always look up to Warne for advice, be it on the field, or in the team room. Warne’s wise words provided for the much-needed motivation Rajasthan Royals.
With contributions from Sohail Tanvir, Shane Watson, Yusuf Pathan and Warne himself, the Royals ended the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier league with a smile on their face, and the trophy in their hands.
Neither Warne nor the Rajasthan Royals could repeat the heroics of 2008. That one season, however, still remains in memories of fans of IPL. It shows how – even without big names and big talents – teams can prosper. It is a lesson for every player, no matter what the sport is.
2. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings
Mahendra Singh Dhoni took over as the Captain of the Chennai Super Kings in the first edition of the IPL, to no one’s surprise. Just a few months before that in September 2007, Dhoni, a newly appointed Captain for India in limited overs cricket, won the inaugural World T20.
A few months later down under in Australia, MS Dhoni gave India its first tri-series win in Australia, beating Australia in the final. There was little doubt that Dhoni would be the Captain of whichever team he played for.
Dhoni showed his acumen as a Team leader in IPL as much as he did for his National Team. In the first four seasons of IPL, CSK went on to make three finals, and would go on to win two of them. The more dramatic of the victories came in 2011. Just days after India secured its 2nd ever World Cup beating Sri Lanka, the men were back in action. This time, it was in their IPL colours.
CSK always looked like a good team, but they managed to finish only second, after Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Points Table. When the qualifiers got underway, however, they gained one up against RCB to reach the final.
When RCB joined them in the Final, they were wounded, looked dangerous, and had revenge written on their faces.
But nothing seemed to work for them on the day, as Chennai thrashed them again, with major contributions from Murali Vijay and Mike Hussey. Dhoni left no stone unturned in his quest to win the IPL for his team, just days after he brought glory to his Country.
3. Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders had a humble beginning in the IPL. The fans were disappointed since all the hype related to India’s biggest superstar Shah Rukh Khan being the owner, amounted to nothing on the field. From an average finish in the first season at No. 6, KKR suddenly experienced a meteoric fall down to the last spot in 2009.
The KKR went for days and weeks without winning a game in the only IPL season not to be held in India. The team management was in a fix – not knowing what to do, or where to go. Public anger was rising. Amidst that, KKR managed to do only slightly better in the very next season in 2010, finishing 6th again.
2011 saw a massive shakeup in the team composition. Shakib Al Hassan, Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee were brought in. The biggest of them all was Gautam Gambhir, who was selected as the Captain.
Gambhir’s leadership skills were known in the Indian domestic circuit but it never came to prominence on such a big stage. In the first season itself, Gambhir-led KKR showed promise by finishing in the playoff stage – a first time for KKR in 4 seasons!
As history says, KKR went on to win two seasons in 2012 and 2014. Without Gambhir in IPL 2018, KKR will still wear the badge of two-time Champions, but without their inspiring team leader.
4. Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers Bangalore
When we mention the word Captain, it will go incomplete without mentioning Virat’s name.
Kohli is one of the few players from India who are never shy to show aggression, against any opposition. This overt, in-your-face nature has been matched equally impressively by his leadership skills. He is someone who inspires up courage among the others, which is one of the primary assets for a Captain.
Kohli was appointed to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014. Before that, he had already been a very important player for RCB for a long time. His exploits with the bat in International Cricket had made him deputy to MS Dhoni, in the national team. He was a Captain’s material much before that – having won led the Indian U-19 team to World Cup win in 2008.
In the first season with Kohli, however, RCB did not look like the team they should have been. They lost lots of matches in the middle and ended up in the 7th position in the tournament. They did improve slowly, but surely. In the very next season in 2015, they finished 3rd in the league table, ultimately going out to Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2.
The next season was one of the best ever seasons for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. They finished second in the league table and ended as the runner up to Sunrisers Hyderabad. Virat had an amazing season with the bat, scoring a record 973 runs in just 14 matches.
Overall, something has been missing in the RCB over the years as they have ended runner-up on three occasions without ever winning the title. If they can rely on any one man to put this behind and move forward every time, it has to be Virat Kohli.
5. Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians
We all know Rohit Sharma as an explosive batsman. On the day he is on a full flow with the bat, he can take the game away from the opposition within moments. This reflects in the three ODI double hundreds he has scored for India. Nobody else has even scored two.
In all this, what we really overlook is Rohit Sharma’s abilities as a Captain. Starting from 2013, Sharma has led the Mumbai Indians for a total of 5 seasons. In these 5 seasons, MI has emerged as the Champions on three occasions – the maximum in the IPL as yet.
His selection as the leader of the MI squad was seen as a very bold decision. There were many players in the team back then who were much more experienced than Sharma on the international level. It paid off – MI beat CSK as in the first edition of IPL to emerge victorious.
The young man that he was back then, Rohit also had very little complacency in himself and managed to stay low key in leading the big names of his team. He is the most successful Captain of IPL history.