This season, in the IPL, there will be two brand new captains in Rishabh Pant for the Delhi Capitals and Sanju Samson for the Rajasthan Royals. The remaining six captains all have leadership experience under their belts. While some have been leading their teams for a long time, like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and David Warner, someone like KL Rahul was handed over the reins of the Punjab Kings franchise ahead of the 2020 season. Eoin Morgan who captains the KKR team has a lot of international captaincy experience. He leads the England ODI and T20 teams in international cricket.
This season too, the teams will be looking up to their respective captains to play stellar roles in both leadership and individual performances.
Ahead of IPL 2021, TimesofIndia.com does a quick recap of how the eight current captains fared last season, in IPL 2020, which was played in the UAE:
Rohit Sharma (Captain, Mumbai Indians)
The most successful captain in IPL history, with five titles under his belt, Rohit Sharma led his team to the fifth title last season in the UAE. As a batsman, Rohit played 12 of the 16 games that Mumbai Indians played in IPL 2020 and as an opening batsman, batted in all 12 matches. He scored 332 runs, at an average of over 27 and a strike rate of almost 128. He scored 3 fifties and had a highest score of 80. He smashed a total of 27 fours and 19 sixes in IPL 2020. Rohit missed four league stage matches because he picked up a hamstring injury. Overall, Rohit finished as the 23rd highest run getter of the tournament last season. Under Rohit’s captaincy, Mumbai Indians won xxx of the 16 matches they played last season.
Virat Kohli (Captain, Royal Challengers Bangalore)
In IPL 2020, Virat Kohli, who has been with the RCB franchise since the very beginning, finished as the ninth highest run getter in the tournament. Virat batted in all 15 matches that RCB played last season, scoring a total of 466 runs. He notched up three fifties and had a highest score of 90*. The Indian captain, who has a fifty plus average in all three formats of international cricket batted at an average of over 42 in IPL 2020 and had a strike rate of over 121. He hit a total of 23 fours and 11 sixes in the 2020 edition of the tournament. RCB finished fourth after the league stage and then lost to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator. Under Virat’s captaincy, RCB won seven and lost eight of the 15 matches they played in all in IPL 2020
MS Dhoni (Captain, Chennai Super Kings)
The Chennai Super Kings would want to forget the 2020 edition completely. The most consistent team in the history of the IPL were the first ones to be knocked out of the play-offs race last season. Before that, CSK had made the play-offs every season. Their captain, the talismanic MS Dhoni also had a below par outing last season with the bat. In the 14 matches that CSK played in IPL 2020, Dhoni batted in 12 games, scoring 200 runs, without a single fifty. His batting average last season was 25 and he had a strike rate of just over 116. The fact that Dhoni struggled with the bat was also very evident from the fact that he managed to hit just 16 fours and 7 sixes last season. As a wicket-keeper though, Dhoni maintained his very high standards, taking 15 catches and effecting 1 stumping. Under Dhoni, CSK won six and lost eight of the 14 matches they played.
Eoin Morgan (Captain, Kolkata Knight Riders)
One of only two foreign captains this season in the IPL, Eoin Morgan is an astute captain, who remains calm even in the most high pressure situations. Morgan had to take over the KKR team as captain midway last season, after Dinesh Karthik decided to step down. Overall, KKR once again flattered to deceive, not managing to seal a play-off berth and being beaten to the fourth spot by RCB only on Net run rate. Three teams (SRH, RCB and KKR) finished on 14 points after the league stage and KKR had to pay the price for not managing to seal a few matches, which they should have won. Morgan, as captain took over at exactly the halfway stage of the tournament last year, after KKR had managed to win four of their first seven matches. In their next seven games they won three. Overall, as a batsman, Morgan batted in 14 innings, scoring a total of 418 runs, with one fifty. He had a batting average of almost 42 and a strike rate of over 138. His highest score was 68* and he pummeled 32 fours and 24 sixes in the tournament.
KL Rahul (Captain, Punjab Kings)
The Punjab Kings finished sixth last season in the IPL, having won six and lost eight of their 14 league stage matches. KL Rahul, the captain didn’t have a great outing in terms of the win-loss percentage of his team. However, Rahul the batsman was on fire in the UAE last season and finished as the highest run getter of the tournament. Rahul batted in all 14 matches and scored a whopping 670 runs, with as many as 5 fifties and one century. He had a highest score of 132* and an incredible average of almost 56. Rahul was completely on song in IPL 2020, smashing as many as 58 fours and 23 sixes. He also took 10 catches.
Rishabh Pant (Captain, Delhi Capitals)
Swashbuckling left handed batsman Rishabh Pant has rediscovered his mojo. After a stupendous run in international cricket, Pant will be itching to set the stage on fire in the IPL as well. This season though he will be more than the wicket-keeper and key batsman, he will also be the Delhi Capitals’ captain. With regular captain Shreyas Iyer having been ruled out of the entire tournament with a shoulder injury, Pant has been handed the reins of the team as Delhi still continue to search for that elusive first IP title. Overall, as a batsman, Pant is expected to do much better than he did last season. In IPL 2020, Pant batted in 14 of the 17 matches that Delhi played, scoring 343 runs, at an average of just over 31. He scored just one fifty and had a highest score of 56. The usually explosive batsman managed to hit 31 fours and just 9 sixes in IPL 2020. With the wicket-keeper’s gloves on, Pant took 13 catches in IPL 2020.
Sanju Samson (Captain, Rajasthan Royals)
Another very talented Indian wicket-keeper batsman who has been handed the reins of his team this season is Sanju Samson. The Rajasthan Royals named Samson as their new captain after they released Steve Smith. Sanju, who received congratulatory messages from the likes of Dhoni, Virat and Rohit after he as named captain is a very talented and explosive batsman, but he hasn’t really managed to find the kind of consistency that the likes of other wicket-keeper batmen like Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan have showcased of late. This season, with the extra responsibility of captaincy on his shoulders, Sanju will be hoping to lead from the front and do much better with the bat than he did in IPL 2020. Last season, Sanju batted in 14 innings, scoring 375 runs, with three fifties. He had a batting average of about 29 and a strike rate of almost 159. His highest score last season was 85 and he hit 21 fours and 26 sixes. As a keeper, Sanju also took 9 catches and effected 2 stumpings.
David Warner (Captain, Sunrisers Hyderabad)
The Sunrisers Hyderabad have been looking for their second IPL title since the 2017 season. Last year, in the UAE, SRH finished third after the league stage, beating out RCB and KR on NRR (14 points) and then beat RCB in the Eliminator, but lost to DC in Qualifier 2. Captain David Warner, one of the all time best batsmen in the history of the IPL will be hoping he can inspire his team and lead from the front with the bat, something he did last season as well. Warner, who is the third highest run getter in the history of the tournament (5254 runs), behind only Virat and Suresh Raina, batted in all the 16 matches his team played last year and finished as the highest run getter for his team (SRH) and the third highest overall in the season (behind KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan), with 548 runs. He smashed four fifties and had a highest score of 85*. Warner’s batting average last season was almost 40 and he had a strike rate of almost 135. The Australian left-handed opening batsman smashed 52 fours and 14 sixes in IPL 2020. Under Warner’s captaincy, SRH won 8 and lost 8 of the 16 matches they played overall last season.