The 11th season of IPL is already halfway through and the league table is shaping up pretty nicely as we aim towards the business end of the competition.
Out of the eight IPL franchisees, four gave the responsibility of leading their respective teams in the hands of new skippers. Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have all had new captains in Ravichandran Ashwin, Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane and Kane Williamson respectively. We are not considering Shreyas Iyer as a new skipper for Delhi Daredevils yet as he has captained only once since Gautam Gambhir stepped down.
Here we try and analyze who amongst the 4 have been the most impressive:
The Tamil Nadu lad has shown some great maturity as a skipper leading the troops. He has been pretty matured in team selection and that has reflected pretty well in the results. He has been bold with his on spot decision making and has shown composure with his field placements and batting order shuffling.
Kings XI are currently 3rd in the IPL table with 5 wins in 7 games and a net run rate of +0.228. The Mohali based franchisee have shown consistency in the matches and have lost only to RCB and SRH. In spite of his personal poor form, Ashwin has been a more-than-able leader replacing David Miller from last season. However, he has bottled up with his captaincy on more than one instances where he almost gave up away the tie by poor bowling rotation (e.g. the CSK game).
Here’s another lad from Tamil Nadu leading another high profile IPL team. Dinesh Karthik replaced 2-times IPL winning captain Gautam Gambhir as the 4th ever captain of the franchisee.
KKR are currently 4th in the table with 8 points from as many matches. Karthik is a seasoned campaigner having been in and around the national team for one and a half decade. Although he has previously led Delhi Daredevils as a stand-in captain as well as leading Tamil Nadu domestically, this has been his biggest challenge as a skipper. So far Karthik has been fair and showed glimpses of great leadership skills. But his poor decisions in crucial circumstances have been costly too (e.g. giving Shivam Mavi the last over against Delhi Daredevils and Vinay Kumar in the CSK game).
Ajinkya Rahane had to step in as a captain for the suspended Steve Smith for the inaugural IPL champions. Rajasthan Royals are currently sitting 5th in the table with 6 points from 7 games and a negative net run rate. Compared to the others on this list, Rahane’s captaincy has been a bit on the weaker side as his side’s 3 victories have all come against the bottom 3 teams of this IPL. His decision making in the CSK and KKR games were really questionable and that costed them dearly. His team selection has also not been up to the mark. He has not been a hit so far as an IPL captain.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is not new to leadership, but still people weren’t sure when he had to replace suspended David Warner as the new captain of the Hyderabad based franchise.
So far the Kiwi has passed with flying colours in his role of the leader of the Orange Army. The 2016 champions are currently leading the standings with 6 wins in 8 games. The two back to back games they lost was due to some poor bowling, especially from their number one spinner Rashid Khan. Since then they have defended 3 very low totals in a row and Rashid has been inspired by the captain to be their best bowler in each of the games.
The faith and belief showed by the captain has been duly rewarded and his decision making skills has been superb. Even his team selection has been laudable as the Sunrisers have defended low totals without their main strike bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Let us now mark the 4 IPL captains out of 10 based on the following criteria:
On Spot Decision Making:
Leading From The Front:
From the above analysis and the mark assignments, it is quite evident that Kane Williamson has been the most influential and the most impressive captain all round, at least in the first half of the IPL.