The Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara has replaced Yuvraj Singh as the captain of Kings XI Punjab for this year's IPL. Speculation was rife over the past few weeks in India that Sangakkara was the man to take over the captaincy and Anil Srivatsa, the franchise's chief executive officer, confirmed the news today.
"Kumar Sangakkara is the new captain of Kings XI Punjab. We are hoping for good things to come out of it," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Under Yuvraj's captaincy in the inaugural IPL in 2008, Punjab had qualified for semi-finals. But in the second edition, held in South Africa last year, they failed to make it to the last four. Yuvraj was Punjab's highest run scorer in 2009 with 340 at 28.33, with two half-centuries, but that was not enough to lift their fortunes.
Srivatsa said the move would not take away from Yuvraj's importance as a star player, and that on the contrary the management hoped it would bring forth more runs from the allrounder. "Being taken off the leadership role does not diminish Yuvraj's standing in the team. Yuvraj's inputs are vital for us," he said. "He has done well for the team in the past two seasons and he has one more year with us. He did his job well enough. This has got nothing to do with all this."
Sangakkara said he had spoken to Yuvraj immediately after being told about the change of leadership. "I have enjoyed playing under Yuvraj, he is a very able captain. When everything was not concrete, I spoke to him and after that I decided that it was the right time to take up [the] captaincy.
"I don't think it would cause any problem. He is a very good friend. I had a long chat with him on this, everything was done very transparently. Moreover, Yuvraj is the most important player in our side. Any IPL team will be lucky to have him. He can change a match just like that. He is a matchwinner."
Sangakkara was second to Yuvraj in South Africa with 332 runs at 30.18, with two half-centuries.