IPL 2015 February 15, 2015

Delhi Daredevils' captaincy contenders

Having offloaded as many as 13 players, including their star player and captain Kevin Pietersen, Delhi Daredevils will be on the lookout for a leader. A man who can be the face of the team. ESPNcricinfo picks five men who have the potential to become the Daredevils captain.

Will Yuvraj Singh lead a third IPL franchise? © BCCI

Yuvraj Singh

Base Price: Rs 2 crore (approx $0.33 million)
2014 Price: Rs 14 crore (approx $2.33 million)

Perhaps it is only good for Yuvraj Singh that Royal Challengers Bangalore decided to release him. Being the most expensive buy in the 2014 auction, at Rs 14 crore, proved to be a burden more than anything else.

Yuvraj was the Player of the tournament in the 2011 World Cup. He was the elusive allrounder MS Dhoni has been crying out loud for and has not lost that status despite being out of the Indian team. He started off the Ranji season with three successive centuries and importantly has remained fit.

Man. Personality. Brand. Matchwinner. Mr Chutzpah. 

Individually and all together, those labels fit Yuvraj nicely. Among the capped Indian players, there is no one who comes close to Yuvraj in terms of potential, brand value and value for money. Unfortunately, not much is spoken about Yuvraj's leadership skills. In his role as captain at Kings XI Punjab (2008 and 2009) and then at Pune Warriors (2011), Yuvraj won 21 matches and lost as many. Yet, his batting remained consistent. He can lead by example, roll his arm over, not lose his intensity and inspire his team-mates.  

Yuvraj also shares a good rapport with the Daredevils head coach Gary Kirsten. The South African was blunt in his assessment of Yuvraj's work ethic during his stint as India coach. That Yuvraj continues to be competitive, is proof enough that he had not ignored Kirsten's words.

Kevin Pietersen

Base Price: Rs 2 crore (approx $0.33 million)
2014 price: Rs 9 crore (approx $1.5 million)

It is such a paradox: with bat or mic in hand, Pietersen inspires. On field, with his captaincy hat on, he is equally supportive of his team-mates, constantly cajoling and chatting at all times. Yet, despite all his motivational skills, Pietersen the captain has never succeeded as Pietersen the batsman. Incidentally, in the 17 matches he has been captain in the IPL (RCB and Daredevils), Pietersen has ended up on the winning side only three times.

Paid handsome money and appointed captain last year, Pietersen and a revamped Daredevils failed miserably finishing at the bottom of the points table with just two wins in 14 matches.

But Pietersen remains a contender again. When he turned up at the IPL last season, he had not played active cricket for a significant period after being axed from the England team. This season he has form: he was the bulwark for the Melbourne Stars' batting in the recently concluded Big Bash League where he finished as the tournament's second-highest run-scorer.

Despite Cameron White leading the Stars, it was Pietersen who was the face of the team, dynamic with the bat and the mouth. His brand potential has never been in question and controversial autobiography has only generated more interest.

Kumar Sangakkara

Base Price: Rs 1 crore (approx $0.17 million)

Before the pedigree, let's get form out of the way. Since the start of 2014, until the start of the World Cup, Sangakkara had 29 fifty-plus scores in 64 innings across all three formats in international cricket, and he scored 2868 runs in 2014, a record tally by a batsman in a calendar year. So the argument that the Sri Lankan is 37 years and too old should fall flat.

Suave, articulate, statesman-like, Sangakkara is one of the brightest minds of the modern generation. Unfortunately for him, numbers betray his struggles as a leader in the IPL. The former Sri Lanka captain has lead three different franchises in the IPL: Kings XI Punjab, Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad. In 47 matches, he managed to win only 15 times including a dismal season in 2013 with Sunrisers where he failed to lead by example in the batting department. He opted to sit out the auction last year, but a successful World Twenty20 with Sri Lanka, followed by a phenomenal 2014 is likely to put Sangakkara back in the spotlight. In addition to being a leader and leading batsman, Sangakkara can also fill in another vacancy for Daredevils: the wicketkeeping position which is empty after the franchise relieved Indian wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.

Darren Sammy

Base Price: Rs 1 crore (approx $0.17 million)
2014 Price: Rs 3.5 crore (approx $0.58 million)

A World Twenty20 winning captain. An energetic allrounder. An explosive hitter. An athletic fielder. Darren Sammy is all that, and not too old, thus making him a dark horse for the captain's role. Sammy's biggest strength is communication: he speaks clearly, loudly, passionately. He makes you listen. He makes sense. He makes you laugh. During his reign as West Indies captain in all three formats (he now only the T20 captain) Sammy remained transparent and honest.

His win-loss ration as T20 captain is 1.10 in 92 matches, domestic and international put together; Sammy has won 46 and lost 42. In the IPL, he led Sunrisers in four matches, winning two and losing two. Sammy is also a hard worker and one of the fittest cricketers around the world, the kind Kirsten has always sought. Sammy can bring experience, skills, tactics to the table.

Eoin Morgan

Base Price: Rs 1.5 crore (approx $0.25 million)

Curiously, last year Morgan opted out two days before the auction, saying he wanted to reinvent his Test prospects. Having found little satisfaction on that path, curiously again, Morgan declared last month that he would not bother to focus on Tests. Thus, the recently-appointed England ODI captain made his intentions clear that he is going to place his bets where his strengths lie: limited-overs cricket. One of the most flexible and adaptable batsmen, Morgan can play the anchor man before switching to explosive strokeplay with his envious range of shots. 

A cool head, the England captaincy has come at the right time for Morgan, who is 28 years old, and is highly regarded for his tactical acumen. He could have an outside chance, considering he has never entirely flourished in the IPL having played just one full season, with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2013.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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