“The captain has to pull together ten different individuals with contrasting personalities and personality traits and get them all going in the same direction by treating them equally but differently” - Steve Waugh
The above statement just emphasises the importance of a captain in the game of cricket. Starting from the toss, to selecting the right bowler and setting the appropriate field, a captain has to make decisions at each and every moment of the match. While strategies are made in the dressing room, once on the field, a captain is on his own. The captain then has to act on the basis of his judgement and guts to take decisions which can potentially alter the result of the match.
In addition to being a leader, a captain can ill-afford to drop down his performance. More often than not, successful captains lead from the front. As the old saying goes, “If you preach excellence but walk mediocrity, you are nothing but a liar”.
In a T20 game, where the pendulum swings from one end to the other after every over, the role of the captain becomes even more critical. In the IPL, a captain’s skills are put to the test as he not only has to take good cricketing decisions but manage players from across the globe.
These challenges have brought out the best out of many captains and the IPL has seen some astute leaders over the last decade.
Before the start of IPL 2017, let’s take a look at five most successful IPL captains.
Note: The list includes captains who have led their sides in a minimum of 30 IPL matches and have been ranked as per their win percentage.
#5 Shane Warne (M - 55, W - 30, L - 24, T - 1, W% - 55.45)
Shane Keith Warne is probably one of the most flamboyant cricketers that the game of cricket has ever seen. He has always been in the news for both cricketing and non-cricketing matters.
‘Warnie’ as he is fondly called, is often referred to by his teammates and former cricketers as the “best captain Australia never had”. For the records, he led Australia in 11 ODIs winning 10 of them. Unfortunately, he never led the Aussies in Test matches.
But he showed his cricketing acumen when he was made the captain of the Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008. Warne had a young team at his disposal and even their supporters would not have given them a chance to win the trophy.
Warne inspired the youngsters and they went past other fancied opponents throughout the tournament. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja, who is a mainstay in the Indian team, was a find of Captain Warne.
Along with this, Warne also performed with the ball in the first edition. With 19 wickets to his name, he was the joint second highest wicket taker (along with S Sreesanth) in the 2008 edition.
#4 Gautam Gambhir (M - 107, W - 61, L - 45, T - 1, W% - 57.47)
Gautam Gambhir started his IPL captaincy stint with Delhi Daredevils in 2009 as a replacement for Virender Sehwag and led them to semi-finals in South Africa. In the next season, he was made full-time captain.
But his captaincy came to the fore when he moved to Kolkata Knight Riders and led the team to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014.
His batting also blossomed along with his captaincy. In the 2012 edition, with 590 runs at a strike rate of 143.55 under his belt, he was the second highest run-getter behind Royal Challenger Bangalore’s Chris Gayle.
With over 3600 runs, Gambhir is the fourth all-time run scorer in all IPL matches. In the 2014 season, though he did not shine with the bat, his captaincy was one of the reasons for KKR’s victory.
#3 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (M - 143, W - 83, L - 59, W% - 58.45)
Most people would have expected Mahendra Singh Dhoni to be at the number one spot in this list of successful IPL captains. Well, if the overall impact on IPL is considered then Dhoni would undoubtedly be at the top.
He has carried on his success as Indian captain to Chennai Super Kings and led them to the knockout phases in eight consecutive seasons, winning the tournament twice in 2010 and 2011 and finishing as runners-up four times.
At CSK, he nurtured the likes of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, who later on went on to be the core of Team India under Dhoni.
Even going by win percentages, he is only marginally behind the top 2. He led CSK and then Rising Pune Supergiants for a record number of 143 matches, thus making him the player with most number of matches as captain in IPL.
In addition to his captaincy, Dhoni has been the star finisher for CSK across seasons. He had a prosperous 2011 season in which he scored runs at an average of 43.55 and with a strike rate close to 160.
#2 Rohit Sharma (M - 58, W - 34, L - 24, W% - 58.62)
The Mumbai batsman became the captain of Mumbai Indians after Ricky Ponting gave up the role in the 2013 season. The change in leadership had a positive impact on Mumbai’s fortunes and they went on to win the title.
With 538 runs at a reasonable strike rate, he was Mumbai’s highest and sixth highest run-getter overall in that season.
Rohit led the Mumbai Indians to another title in 2015. In the finals against CSK at the Eden Gardens, Rohit scored a 26-ball fifty and was instrumental in taking Mumbai to a score of 202 runs in 20 overs.
Mumbai went on to win the match by 41 runs and Rohit Sharma was named as the player of the match for his swashbuckling innings. Overall, Rohit is also the third highest run-scorer in all IPL matches behind Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina.
#1 Sachin Tendulkar (M - 51, W - 30, L - 21, W% - 58.82)
Sachin Tendulkar did not have a memorable captaincy sting with Team India and thus his name at the top of this list will surprise many. But as they say, “numbers don’t lie”.
With a win percentage of 58.82, Tendulkar is the most successful IPL captain going by percentage of victories. Though he does not have an IPL title as captain under his belt, he has led them to the finals in the 2010 season.
Mumbai lost the finals to CSK by 22 runs despite Tendulkar’s 48 runs at the top of the order. He was the leading scorer in the 2010 edition scoring 618 runs at an average of 47.53.
This gave him the title of the player of the series as well as the best captain of the season. He led the Mumbai Indians to the playoffs in the 2011 season as well. Later on, Tendulkar gave up the captaincy and took on the role of a mentor of the team.