The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 season is just about to kick off on April 7, Saturday at the Wankhede in Mumbai. All teams will hope they have done their preparations well as there will be no room for complacency. A lot will depend on the captains leading their sides out as the IPL 11 has a good mix of leaders.
MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma are with their familiar sides and, by the looks of it, have an edge over the others. No wonder, their leadership skills have also put their sides in the driving seat as favorites. Veteran leader Gautam Gambhir will be in charge of Delhi Daredevils and hence, the transformation will be vital for Delhi Daredevils.
With Steve Smith and David Warner banned from IPL 2018 due to the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa, both Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have found solace in new captains Ajinkya Rahane and Kane Williamson. How they lead their sides in the mix of everything that has happened recently, will be key to their performances in the IPL.
Lastly, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab have entirely new skippers in Dinesh Karthik and R Ashwin respectively.
Here is an analysis of all the captains in IPL 2018.
MS Dhoni – Chennai Super Kings
‘Captain Cool’ is back to what he does best in IPL by leading the Chennai outfit. MSD is the most consistent captains in the history of the IPL. Two titles and three-time runners-up, Dhoni knows how to get his side going long and strong. He is the fulcrum of the CSK unit as they retained all the core players.
That gives Dhoni the edge as he knows the side and the players inside out. CSK are back after a two-year suspension and with Dhoni back at the helm, they know they are in with providing something special.
Titles won: 2 (2011, 2012)
Dhoni as CSK skipper – Matches 129, Wins 78, Lost 50, NR 1, Win % 60.47
Rohit Sharma – Mumbai Indians
As expected, Mumbai will be led by Rohit Sharma. Mumbai Indians have won two titles under the leadership of ‘Hitman’, besides winning three in total. The way they have played in the recent seasons under Rohit is quite mind-blowing.
MI has gone with a bunch of its core and the management knows that under Rohit, they have built a safety net. With the scent of success tasted in IPL, Rohit, like MSD, provides a lot of stability and balance in decision making. Rohit can provide the base for the side and the batsmen will rally around him.
Titles won: 2 (2015, 2017)
Rohit as MI skipper – Matches 75, Wins 45, Lost 29, Tied 1, Win % 60.66
Gautam Gambhir – Delhi Daredevils
Gambhir is back to where he started his IPL journey from. After playing for DD for three seasons, he went to KKR and captained them for seven years. Delhi has one of the most successful skippers in IPL history and with the consistency that he brings to the table, the franchise will be looking to get the best out of him in creating a solid base.
Kolkata Knight Riders achieved a lot of consistency in the past few years under Gambhir and although he is unlikely to be with the Daredevils for long, he will be able to bring a lot of factors in place in a short period of time. The 36-year-old thrived in the role as a skipper and helped KKR be very successful as a franchise. The southpaw backs his instincts and is very attacking in nature.
Titles won at KKR: 2 (2012, 2014)
Gambhir as DD and KKR skipper – Matches 123, Wins 70, Lost 52, Tied 1, Win % 57.31
Virat Kohli – Royal Challengers Bangalore
Despite having one of the most glamorous squads at RCB, Kohli did not manage to win the IPL. This time it is his best chance to gain the rights in doing well as a leader for RCB.
Kohli has the challenge of bringing consistency. His task is to get RCB perform to their capabilities. Aggression is what defines Kohli’s captaincy style and the Indian skipper knows he has a testing time ahead amidst all the expectations surrounding the franchise.
Titles won: 0
Kohli as RCB skipper – Matches 82, Wins 38, Lost 39, Tied 2, NR 3, Win % 49.36
Kane Williamson – Sunrisers Hyderabad
The Kiwi skipper was chosen as SRH’s interim skipper after David Warner’s ban. Williamson has his task cut out especially after requiring to fill in the shoes of the Aussie, who gained enormous respect and success as SRH’s leader.
Williamson is a fine leader and his capabilities are well known for New Zealand. He may not be the aggressive type as Warner, but he has the character to rise up and get his team perform. The 1-0 Test series win against England will have him pumped up, as he will also be desperate to show his mettle in the IPL. With the team he has got, expect SRH to come out all guns blazing.
Ajinkya Rahane – Rajasthan Royals
Another player who replaced the banned Steven Smith at RR and finds himself at a similar position like Williamson in gathering his troops and making them focus after all that has happened in recent weeks.
The Indian test team vice-captain is debuting as an IPL skipper and will feel the pressure. But the experience in him besides the knowledge will be a soothing factor. Rajasthan Royals have ammunition at their disposal and Rahane knows he has to perform well as a batsman to get his multi-millionaire team come out strong.
R Ashwin – Kings XI Punjab
KXIP have had a host of skippers over the years and this time its Ravichandran Ashwin. The pressure will be on the senior spinner, who will try to change the fortunes of the team and bring some positive changes.
Ashwin will be tested as the skipper, given that the IPL is his first major assignment. The management felt his experience can help him read the game better and that in turn will be positive for the franchise. Ashwin has been in the game for a long time and the biggest test will be to get the balance of the side right.
Dinesh Karthik – Kolkata Knight Riders
After the exit of two-time IPL title-winning skipper Gautam Gambhir, KKR went for experience in the form of Indian T20I player Dinesh Karthik, who has been on top form in the last 2-3 years.
Karthik comes into a side that achieved a lot of consistency in the past few years under Gambhir. Therefore it will be a big challenge for KKR’s new skipper to get the team firing on all cylinders. After being handed the responsibility of a very big franchise in KKR, the player will hope to get the desired stability and bring his experience into play.