Cricket is one of those sports where the captain is asked to do everything from team selection to calling the toss to and most recently, challenging on-field decisions. The advent and rise of T20 cricket had made the job only harder where one wrong call by the captain has the potential to change the entire course of the game.
Here, we look at the top five IPL teams who have switched their captains the most number of times in order to find that elusive winning combination and inspiring leadership.
#5 Royal Challengers Bangalore – 5 captains
RCB started their journey with Rahul Dravid as their captain and icon player. Their first year was disastrous as they struggled to find a winning formula, experimenting with as many as 11 different opening combinations. They were eliminated during the league stage.
The failure ensured that they made some bold decisions in the 2009 season. They bought their new captain, Kevin Pietersen at a hefty price of $1.55m. The team continued to lose under him before he had to leave for national duty.
It was then that Anil Kumble took over the reins. He bowled economically and led from the front for the rest of the season. There was a dramatic turn of events since he took over and RCB finished as runners-up. He continued to lead the team in the 2010 season in both the IPL and the CLT20 before announcing his retirement.
After he retired, Daniel Vettori took up captaincy duties for the next two seasons, before moving on to coaching since the 2014 season. He was succeeded by a promising Virat Kohli in 2013.
Over the next few years, Kohli was instrumental in building a stronger RCB, assisted by a fearsome batting line-up consisting of himself, Gayle and de Villiers. The Bangalore outfit finished as runners-up in the 2016 edition and in October, Kohli announced that RCB would be his permanent IPL franchise.
With the Indian skipper at the helm, it is difficult to imagine another captain for the franchise for the next few years.
#4 Sunrisers Hyderabad – 5 captains
SRH were founded in 2012 after the Deccan Chargers outfit were terminated by the IPL. In terms of the number of captain-changes per seasons, SRH tops all the IPL teams. They have had five different captains in the four seasons they have played.
In the first season, they were captained by Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White, who split games almost equally between them. Amidst a lacklustre season, they lost to Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator. Their next season was no different as the team tried two more captains with Shikhar Dhawan leading for the first 10 games and Sammy leading for the last four. Their bad run continued as they finished sixth.
In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the team was led by David Warner who seemed to have finally solved the captaincy issues as SRH went on to win the 2016 championship with the Aussie himself leading from the front. Unless he produces a few uncharacteristically shoddy performances in the coming seasons, it is hard to imagine someone replacing Warner as captain of SRH in the foreseeable future.
#3 Mumbai Indians – 6 captains
The quest for a successful Mumbai Indians captain is a tale with a happy ending after their infamous first season. Sachin Tendulkar was announced as the leader before the 2008 season began but he had to make way for stand-in captain Harbhajan because of an injury.
Harbhajan was then suspended from the tournament after slapping Sreesanth during a game. Shaun Pollock then assumed the leadership until Sachin returned.
Their captaincy woes continued for seasons to come as they tried shuffling between Sachin, Ricky Ponting and Harbhajan with no great success until Rohit Sharma was asked to lead the team and boy, did he grab the opportunity!
Mumbai Indians won the championship in the first season that they were led by Rohit. His golden run continued as he led the team to their second championship in the 2015 season. He is not only the leading run-scorer for the franchise but also boasts of one of the best win-loss ratios as a captain in the IPL.
#2 Kings XI Punjab – 8 captains
Kings XI Punjab have been one of the most unsuccessful teams in the IPL. For a team which changed captains eight times since its inception, stability has been a major issue. After making an impressive debut with Yuvraj Singh leading the team in their opening season, it has been a sad story for the Kings apart from a runners-up finish in the 2014 season.
Once Yuvraj stepped down after the 2009 season, a slew of captains were tried. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey, George Bailey, David Miller and even Murali Vijay all captained the team at some point. Some might attribute their poor run to bad luck, but the inability to find stable leadership cannot be written off.
Their fight for a good captain to lead the franchise is still on and they have announced another new captain for this season – Glenn Maxwell. Make that nine.
#1 Delhi Daredevils – 10 captains
If Kings XI Punjab are struggling for stability, Delhi Daredevils have completely lost their way. For much of their initial seasons, they were led by either Sehwag or Gambhir and in hindsight, those were their best days as DD finished the first two editions as semi-finalists.
After a couple of off-seasons, Sehwag finally made way for Jayawardene, but with a win percentage of just 36.11%, he was one of the most unsuccessful captains among those who led for more than 15 games.
During this period, several others were given a chance to lead including Dinesh Karthik, James Hopes and Ross Taylor. DD fared so poorly during this period that they decided not to retain even a single player during the 2014 squad overhaul.
In the following seasons, in spite of a completely new team, they continued their poor run. Another set of captains were asked to try their fortunes in the name of David Warner, Kevin Pietersen and JP Duminy. KP lost 10 of the 11 matches he captained which was a record in itself.
Then the captaincy was handed over to Zaheer Khan in the 2016 edition. Daredevils did not qualify for the playoffs but the fans felt that this was their best performance in the last few years. Zaheer will continue to lead the side going into the 2017 season and with nothing to lose, he will look to lead them aggressively.
Apart from his regular duties, an IPL captain has to deal with the pressure from franchise bosses, the weight of his paycheck and a squad that is more diverse than a national team can ever be. The quest for such a leader seems to have ended for a few teams while others are still stuck in the place where they started.