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IPL 2013

May 9, 2013

The importance of Indian captains in the IPL

Krish Sripada, India

Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma pose with the trophy after winning the one-off Twenty20 international, South Africa v India, only Twenty20, Durban
The IPL is a very good testing ground to groom India's next generation of leaders, away from the pressures of international cricket © AFP
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Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Teams: India

There is a reason why IPL is spelt with an 'I'. The big stars are roped in, the celebrities make an entry and the cheerleaders try their best to drag our attention away from the action. At its core though, it still is a platform to let local players mingle with the big stars from other countries. India's international commitments have made it impossible for their top players to participate in the Ranji Trophy. The IPL ensures that local players get to share the dressing room with their idols - cricketers whose posters have adorned their walls in their formative years. An Indian captain for each IPL franchise would have been the icing on the cake. That hasn't quite transpired, though.

Rajasthan Royals, because of their lack of resources, handed the reins to Shane Warne, a tactical genius, an astute student of the game and a charmer. Soon, Kings XI Punjab followed suit, handing Kumar Sangakkara the baton, a move that perhaps adversely impacted Yuvraj Singh's returns in the IPL.

IPL 2013 has an interesting mix. Chennai, Rajasthan, Kolkata and Bangalore went for Indian captains. Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Punjab went for foreign options. The message was loud and clear from the team owners: local players don't possess the tactical nous and ability of the foreign players. Interestingly, the Indian captains have outperformed their foreign counterparts. Mumbai Indians turned it around midway with Ricky Ponting dropping himself, allowing Rohit Sharma to take over. Coincidentally, the team has responded with three wins in four games. Delhi, Pune and Punjab are languishing on the wrong side of the table. The results perhaps don't say much about the abilities of the respective captains, but there are a few points worth delving into.

One reason why captaincy is an important consideration is the mix of players - four foreigners and seven Indians per XI. Most squads have a huge Indian contingent, so you'd expect communication channels to work far more smoothly with an Indian at the helm. Given the professional grounding that the foreign players already have, they would find it easier to work with an Indian captain compared to local players having to deal with foreign captains. Players will always respond better to a captain who can pronounce their names perfectly, no offence given or taken.

All the teams have huge contingents for man management and planning. In such a scenario, the captain's job doesn't really imitate the pressure-cooker situation of international cricket. The IPL is a great opportunity to groom leaders, and a wonderful testing ground of their maturity. Bangalore did that by handing Virat Kohli the captaincy, instead of taking the easier option of going with AB de Villiers. Perhaps, a lesson was learnt when Anil Kumble swung their fortunes around after a disastrous start to the 2009 campaign under Kevin Pietersen. Kohli commands the respect of his team on the strength of his batting and fielding. What he lacks in experience, he makes up in flair and passion. De Villiers and Chris Gayle aren't too far for a quick word either. Surely in years to come, the heir-apparent to Indian captaincy will ruminate upon the lessons learnt in the IPL.

Mumbai took a bold step with Rohit at a crucial juncture and it seems to have paid off. Had Ponting been more successful with the bat, we wouldn't have seen Rohit in this role. Mumbai have got into a winning run under him, and Rohit's batting has also blossomed.

With Shikhar Dhawan back from injury, perhaps the Sunrisers should've considered him as a captain. Neither Cameron White nor Kumar Sangakkara has consistently figured in the playing XI. With Angelo Matthews standing down as Pune captain, it might be a good idea to give Yuvraj another run to see if he can rediscover his batting touch. Of all the teams, Delhi is the only one that probably has no choice, Virender Sehwag being reluctant to lead.

The IPL is at an interesting point in its evolution. The third auction will initiate a new round of shuffling, with players changing colours and loyalties. What the IPL has lacked so far is the long-term fan loyalty that is seen in football. Chennai and Mumbai have the most loyal fan following - helped by the fact that they retained more players than any of the other franchises in the first reshuffle. Perhaps there's a message there for the other franchises.

An Indian captain will find it easier to get the best out of the Indian contingent, and will also get the crowds going. Additionally, he will definitely fuel fan loyalty. Even if one wants to be a die-hard fan of the Delhi, for example, it is hard to not support RCB led by a Delhi lad when pitted against Jayawardene's Daredevils.

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Posted by Muhammed on (May 13, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

There are multiple reasons why Indian captains are more successful in IPL than foreign captains. 'Communication' is an important factor as the majority of players are from India. Familiar to 'local conditions' is another factor that favours Indian captains. Other than these two, the 'form' of the captain is what makes the difference. Due to the overseas player restrictions, all teams expects high performances from their 4 overseas players at all times. This gives additional pressure to a foreign captain to qualify into that group of four. But an Indian captain as more freedom here as he just have to qualify into a group of seven players! In any case, Twenty 20 is a tough format where the captain has to perform well as an individual and get the best out of his players consistently. If the team is not performing, the captain has come out with a match winning innings to lift their team. MS Dhoni , Dravid and Kohli have done that this season for their teams.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 11, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

Not all captains are the best in nature, i mean all forms of cricket. T20 is made for batsman. Obviously you should have a indian captain. Mainly he should be a good batsman. Qualifications are as follows, 1. Quality fielder, good in running betwn wickets. 2. Should be polite and take up the fight till the end (last ball)

Posted by Akshay on (May 11, 2013, 11:05 GMT)

@SK5983 - IPL 7 fresh auction

Posted by Vikram on (May 11, 2013, 0:36 GMT)

@Vivekaks - A captain is as good as his team? Sachin and Saurav led the same team, with different results. A good captain makes the team believe in more than the sum of the individuals - examples: Fleming, and Dhoni.

Posted by Sachin on (May 10, 2013, 18:29 GMT)

For IPL-7 following should be the captain of respective teams: 1. M.S.Dhoni: CSK 2. Virat Kohli: RCB 3. Gautam Gambhir:KKR 4. Shikar Dhawan: SRH 5. Rohit Sharma: MI 6. Suresh Raina: DD 7.Ajinkya Rahane: RR 8. Cheteshwar Pujara: PWI 9. Yuvraj Singh KXIP. All can do well, in this lot shikar, Ajinkya and Cheteshwar are young but are the shrewed captain what i have seen from domestic tournamnets and corporate trophy.

Posted by Vinoth on (May 10, 2013, 10:54 GMT)

Ya. Its correct. IPL needs Indian Captains. It ll be helpful in future also.If suresh Raina performs well as a captain,We ll have more choices.Bcoz Virat,Raina and Rohit are Future Indian Cricket.So This will be best platform to prove their skills as a captain.I think that Suresh Raina should lead any team in 2014 IPL.

Posted by hari on (May 10, 2013, 9:21 GMT)

An interesting article. In fact when a coach is selected, I laways felt that he should be an Indian as only an Indian can communicate better to Indian team members. However, Gary Kirsten proved my wrong. In IPL too it is easy to say Indian captain can communicate better with 7 Indians in the team. However, seeing the success of Warne and Gilly, one will be tempted to pick foreign players only to lead the side. If Clarke was fit Pune would have seen better fortunes, may be. As Krish mentined some team like Delhi, Punjab abd Pune lack players who can lead. Even sides like Rajasthan will find it difficult to have Indian captains. The franchises should trade for some senior Indians so that they can lead the side. Like KKR has done with Gambhir. The prospective Indian captains is limited to Raina, Dhawan, Ashwin. Which means we have to wait for atleast 2 more seasons before we can unearth players who can become future captains. Foreign captains can fill the interim gap and groom them.

Posted by abhijeet on (May 10, 2013, 6:09 GMT)

@KingOwl. I don't think anybody is saying that Indian players make better captains. Author is saying Indian players would make better captains in IPL. Angelo MAthews is a great player and so is Aaron finch. But how much do they really know about Indian conditions and players. MS Dhoni is a fantastic captain but if he plays in SLPL, the team would be better off with him in a senior player role like Tendulkar who will provide counselling and guidance if required instead of making him a captain.

Posted by Ayush on (May 10, 2013, 4:53 GMT)

@xylo that's the point isn't it that people like Rohit, Shikar and Kohli can learn from people like Ponting, Sangakaara and AB.

Posted by Vikram on (May 10, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

This article is missing the point entirely. Captaincy just does not come to anyone how much ever they crave it - ask Sehwag, Harbhajan, or Yuvraj. RR's choosing of Warne was a strategic move. Teams would be better off in choosing captains based on their tactical abilities rather than nationalities - I would rather have the Indian players learn a thing or two about tactics from the proven leaders like Sangakkara, Ponting, ABdV, Clarke, Mahela, and even Cook. These men have proved that cricket is a game where thought and man management are key. As is evident to see, the only captain material that India have are Dravid and Dhoni. Dhoni is on a higher pedestal because of the tactical abilities of the coach Flemming. If Warne were to coach RR, with Dravid being captain, that would have evened the field between these two captains. Gambhir, Bhajji, Rohit as captains makes for funny jokes. Kohli is still a work in progress.

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