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Rohit's rise, Gambhir's fall and other captaincy changes in the IPL

With Karthik relinquishing his Knight Riders captaincy, we look at other times an IPL team had a change at the top

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
With Dinesh Karthik relinquishing his Kolkata Knight Riders captaincy midway through IPL 2020, we look at seven other occasions when IPL teams changed their captains mid-season, for reasons apart from injury or national team call-ups.
Kumar Sangakkara benches himself at Deccan Chargers (2012)
With Deccan Chargers winning only one game in their first seven, and Sangakkara struggling with the bat, the Sri Lankan decided to not play the eighth game against Mumbai Indians, handing over the captaincy to Australian Cameron White.
The move, however, did not change the Chargers' campaign much, losing six of their next nine games, and finished eighth out of nine teams. That season ended up being the Chargers' last IPL appearance, replaced by Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013.
Virat Kohli begins his IPL captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore (2012)
Daniel Vettori - who had led the side since 2011 - was struggling to get wickets at Royal Challengers. So, ahead of their eighth game against Chennai Super Kings, Vettori left himself out of the XI and handed over the captaincy to Kohli. Under Kohli the team won four of the next eighth completed matches, finishing fifth and losing out on playoff contention on net run rate.
Since then Kohi has been captain at Royal Challengers, reaching the playoffs once (2015) and finishing runners-up once (2016). Kohli is the only person to lead a team for every IPL season since 2012.
Ricky Ponting makes way for Rohit Sharma (2013)
The most significant captaincy change in the IPL came in 2013 when its most expensive franchise, still on the hunt for a title, changed their captain after six games. Ponting, the two-time ODI World Cup winning captain, was struggling with the bat, having scored only 52 runs in six innings, and before match seven benched himself. That meant Rohit was given the captain's armband for the match against the Knight Riders.
Mumbai would go on to win 10 of their next 13 matches to clinch their maiden IPL title that year. Under Rohit, Mumbai have won three more IPL titles in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and are currently the tournament's most successful team.
Shikhar Dhawan gives up Sunrisers captaincy (2014)
With six losses in ten games and only 215 runs to his name, Dhawan gave up the Sunrisers captaincy and was replaced by Daren Sammy. Under Sammy, Sunrisers won two of their next four games, but the side could only finish sixth. The next season, Sammy was released from the squad.
David Warner took over captaincy for IPL 2015, won the franchise a title in 2016 and barring his brief suspension during IPL 2018, the left-handed batsman from Australia has ever since remained the Sunrisers captain.
M Vijay replaces David Miller at Kings XI Punjab (2016)
Having finished last in IPL 2015 under George Bailey's captaincy, the Kings XI appointed Miller, who by then had produced many match-winning performances, as captain for IPL 2016. But under Miller, the ghosts of 2015 returned again, as they won just one match in their first six outings, and before match seven, the team changed their leader.
Vijay was made captain, and under him, the side did win three of their next seven games but their fortunes did not change. With a 4-10 season record, the Kings XI finished with the wooden spoon for a second season in a row.
Gautam Gambhir retires, and a new era for Delhi Daredevils (2018)
Having won two IPL titles as captain with the Knight Riders and released ahead of the 2018 season, Gambhir looked to change the fortunes of Delhi Daredevils in 2018 after being bought by his home team and given the armband. But it was a disastrous start for Gambhir, scoring only 85 runs off 88 balls in his first six games, that coincided with the team losing five of their first six games.
Gambhir then hosted a press conference where he said he was stepping down as captain, and handed over the reins to Shreyas Iyer, who was only 23 then. Since then Iyer has remained the Delhi captain (although they are now called the Capitals) and although they could not reach the playoffs that season, the side made the top four in 2019 and are on course to do the same in 2020.
Ajinkya Rahane exits, Steven Smith returns (2019)
It was a complicated few years for Rajasthan Royals, who were suspended from the IPL for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and when they returned in 2018, Smith was not available due to his own ban suffered after the Newlands ball-tampering scandal. That meant, Rahane was captain in 2018 and the team stayed with him for 2019 too. But after six losses in eight games, the Royals management asked Rahane to step down.
Smith took over, but the road to playoffs was nearly impossible, and despite three wins in the next five games under his captaincy, the Royals finished seventh. Smith remains the Royals captain.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo