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IPL captains then and now (2008 and 2021)


MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

The IPL, in its 14 years of history, has gone through a realm of changes which at present makes the high-profile league the world’s biggest T20 carnival. Whether it has changed the fortunes of cricketers from all around the globe or has emerged as a white-ball cricket’s biggest institution, the tournament, in general, has truly been cricket’s biggest cosmopolitan competition to date.

However, during the time of its inception back in 2008, barely anyone including its founder Lalit Modi had any idea on how the tournament would pan out. It now serves as the biggest cash cow that the BCCI has ever indulged in.  Just like how the opulence of the league has transformed the destiny of the BCCI, similarly, even the franchises have also endured a booming evolution.

The fan following of these IPL teams has now become as peppy as the following of certain European football clubs and with the captains always being the biggest pioneers regarding a team’s fruitful evolution, here’s our list covering the IPL captains then and now.

( NOTE – Sunrisers Hyderabad is not considered in this list as it was added in the year 2013 to the IPL)

1. Mumbai Indians: 2008 – Sachin Tendulkar, 2021- Rohit Sharma

Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma
Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

Being the most successful franchise in the history of the IPL, the MI team before the IPL’s inception in 2008, had already become the most expensive franchise to be sold in the league. The Reliance Industries Ltd owner Mukesh Ambani had bought the team for a whopping amount of $111.9 million and with BCCI selecting the four icon players to play for their home-based franchise, Sachin Tendulkar then ultimately became MI’s first captain in the inaugural IPL season.

However, the first two IPL seasons were a prolonged struggle for the franchise, especially with Sachin Tendulkar himself facing an ordeal of inconsistent form and injuries. The period from 2010 to 2012 earmarked the rising years of the franchise, as the team under Sachin’s leadership had consistently qualified for the playoffs. But the overall search for its very first IPL glory still seemed to be an elongated wait.

However, with the year 2013 becoming Sachin’s final IPL year, the MI management then had to bag the invincible services of the legendary Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who later because of his inferior form eventually dropped himself from the team in the middle of the 2013 season. A leadership crisis in between the season, however, resulted in a wholly new triumphing chapter in the franchise’s history, as the current skipper Rohit Sharma then was handed the reigns of the MI squad.

Rohit Sharma’s ingenious captaincy had become an instant hit for the MI team ultimately yielding the franchise its first IPL glory in 2013. Another IPL title in 2015 and following the next two in 2017 and 2019, meant that the team had become a certain force if it’s held in an odd-numbered year. However, with 2020 being the oddest of years mankind has ever faced in a while, the MI team under Rohit Sharma’s leadership landed its fifth trophy and is perhaps the most valuable franchise so far in the IPL’s history.

2. Kolkata Knight Riders: 2008 – Sourav Ganguly, 2021- Eoin Morgan

Sourav Ganguly and Eoin Morgan
Sourav Ganguly and Eoin Morgan. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

With the franchise being jointly owned by the Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan in partnership with actress Juhi Chawla, the KKR franchise was bought at a price tag of $75.09 million. With Sourav Ganguly also being part of the icon players list, the cricketer had automatically become the first captain of the KKR team in its inaugural season. Although the team also had some other prolific players like Ricky Ponting and Brendon McCullum, the franchise hugely struggled until the 2011 IPL.

From then on, the KKR team then unlatched its glory days, especially when the newly hired skipper Gautam Gambhir soared the team to its first-ever playoffs. However, in the next three seasons, the franchise was at its absolute peak when skipper Gambhir delivered two robust IPL titles, first in 2012 and then in 2014.

After Gambhir’s tenure, the team later had bagged Dinesh Karthik, as their new skipper in the 2018 auctions, but eventually towards the mid-way of the IPL 2020 replaced him with Eoin Morgan’s appointment. Overall, the KKR franchise is the third most successful team in the IPL’s history, being only below the giants like CSK & MI.

3. Rajasthan Royals: 2008- Shane Warne, 2021- Sanju Samson

Shane Warne and Sanju Samson
Shane Warne and Sanju Samson. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

With RR initially being called as the weakest IPL team before the start of the inaugural season, the team under the fearless captaincy of Shane Warne had dazzled everyone by fetching the first-ever trophy. Despite lacking the additional exuberance of overseas players, their key overseas architects in that triumphing season were the likes of Graeme Smith, Shane Watson and Pakistan’s sensational speedster Sohail Tanvir.

However, after fetching the first-ever IPL title, the RR team, to date, hasn’t been indomitable even with the legendary players like Rahul Dravid and Steve Smith handling the reigns. Over the years, it’s the inconsistency that has deeply hammered RR in their overall IPL journey, as the franchise has only qualified thrice into the playoffs after their initial success.

After the retirement of the veteran Rahul Dravid, the RR team had then broadly moulded Ajinkya Rahane, as their new long-term captain but their topsy-turvy ride still continued under his leadership. Currently, the new leadership role has now been handed to the young Sanju Samson.

4. Delhi Capitals: 2008- Virender Sehwag,  2021- Rishabh Pant

Virender Sehwag and Rishabh Pant
Virender Sehwag and Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

The Delhi Capitals team which was formerly known as the Delhi Daredevils was a top-quality franchise especially in its initial two years of the IPL. Skipper Virender Sehwag had successfully led the team into two back to back to semi-finals wherein the side first lost to RR and then to Deccan Charges during the knockout phase.

The team, in its initial years, was known for getting brimmed with top-class overseas players especially with the likes of AB De Villiers, David Warner and Paul Collingwood being collectively available at their disposal. However, in reality, after its few successful IPL seasons, the team had started to face a regression phase especially when skipper Virender Sehwag had moved out of the franchise in 2013.

A brief regression phase then got transpired into utter doldrums, as the franchise barely upheld a leader to steady their ship. Until IPL 2019, each year the Delhi team was led by a different individual who along with other constant new faces were seen casting the team’s fortunes. Even the experience of Gautam Gambhir in 2018 had failed to pull the franchise out of despair.

Nevertheless, it’s now the fellowship of Ricky Ponting and Shreyas Iyer that has finally soared the team into new towering heights. The team in its last two seasons has constantly made it into the playoffs and Rishabh Pant led in the 2021 season with Iyer being injured.

5. Punjab Kings: 2008- Yuvraj Singh, 2021- KL Rahul

Yuvraj Singh and KL Rahul
Yuvraj Singh and KL Rahul. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

The Punjab Kings which was formerly known as the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) franchise initially had a flourishing first season especially when the team had ended their campaign as a semi-finalist. Yuvraj Singh, who was the team’s first captain was highly praised for his vigorous captaincy, as under him the franchise had extensively won nine of their last 10 matches to seal a semi-final spot.

However, since their first sturdy spark in IPL 2008, the team, in general, has been a reasonable performer amongst all teams in the history. After Yuvraj Singh’s captaincy stint, the team was then led Adam Gilchrist, who barely could even replicate his earlier success with Deccan Chargers. The 2014 season under George Bailey’s captaincy has been the only year where the team played its only IPL final, and overall till today has only qualified twice in the knockout stages.

In between, the team had also tried to steady the ship by appointing some Indian captains like Murali Vijay and Ravi Ashwin but none could lift them out from hardships. Currently, since IPL 2020 season, the team is now being led by KL Rahul who also continues to play as their premier batsman.

6. Royal Challengers Bangalore: 2008 – Rahul Dravid, 2021 – Virat Kohli

Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli
Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

The RCB franchise which is one of the most cherished IPL teams has often been upheld by players who have been the legends of the game. In the beginning with Rahul Dravid being an icon player, the cricketer was appointed as the first captain of the franchise wherein the team had unfortunately finished seventh in the points table. However, the next few years then became the glory days, as the team had constantly soared themselves into the playoffs till the 2011 season.

With the likes of Daniel Vettori and Anil Kumble being the blooming architects till the 2012 season, the 2013 edition then earmarked skipper Virat Kohli’s era along with AB De Villiers becoming their premier batsman. Under Virat Kohli’s leadership, the team till today has only been able to fetch three playoffs qualifications with the last one coming in the 2020 IPL season.

Overall, despite having the overpowering presence of ABD and skipper Kohli, the team is yet to win its first IPL title and in general, has now being glued with the tag of underachievers.

7. Chennai Super Kings: 2008 – MS Dhoni, 2021 – MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. (Photo Source: Getty Images and IPL/BCCI)

Being acquired by the owner of India cements N Srinivasan, for a colossal amount of $91 million, the Chennai franchise is the second most successful team in IPL history. The team right from its inaugural year is being led by the legendary former India skipper MS Dhoni, who is also responsible for taking the franchise into a record number of appearances in the playoffs.

Till IPL 2020, CSK had qualified for 10 occasions into the playoffs stages and also has a record 8 appearances into the finals of the league. The franchise, in the inaugural season itself, had played its first IPL final eventually losing a close game to RR. However, a quick redemption was visible when the team won its first IPL glory in the 2010 season.

Again in the following year, the team won its second trophy by successfully becoming the most trouncing side in IPL history at that time. However, after facing a brutal suspension of two years because of the IPL’s match-fixing scandal, the franchise again revived its legacy by winning its third IPL title in 2018.

The team also faced its elusive off-form season in 2020 when for the first time CSK failed to qualify for the playoffs. All in all, regardless of facing so many twists and turns, skipper MS Dhoni still remains the bonafide leader of the yellow army.

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