IPL 2022: Captaincy is a tough job, especially in the biggest, most competitive T20 league in the world – the Indian Premier League. The challenges are immense when you are leading a side for the first time in the IPL.
More than half of the league stage is done and dusted. While the two new franchises – Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants- have been impressive, the two most successful IPL franchises – Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings- have been disappointing and are languishing at the bottom pile. There are other teams and their captains who are doing well but would want to improve.
Here were rank the captains of the 10 teams for their captaincy so far in the tournament:
Leading for the first time in the IPL, Hardik Pandya has no doubt been the most impressive of the captains, even surprising and proving those wrong who had questioned his appointment as the Gujarat Titans skipper. 7 wins out of 8 matches, GT have one foot in the playoffs.
— Gujarat Titans (@gujarat_titans) April 25, 2022
All the GT players and staff have heaped praise on Hardik and head coach Ashish Nehra for the environment they have created in the dressing room. On the field, Pandya has regularly been seen involved in chats with his bowlers and has taken up more responsibility with the bat as well in a batting line-up that could crumble anytime.
Moving on to a new franchise, KL Rahul‘s Lucknow Super Giants have moved into the top four and the skipper has led from the front with the bat, being the second-leading run-scorer at the time of writing.
Taking his experience and learning from two largely distressing seasons at Punjab Kings, Rahul has shown proactiveness as a skipper. However, some of the changes in the batting order have been contentious which he’d hope to improve upon going deeper in the season.
There is rarely any criticism thrown towards Kane Williamson’s captaincy, although SRH fans would be hoping for him to fare better as a batsman because as an opener he’s striking at only 93 and is averaging a mediocre 21. Maybe he ought to push himself back at number 3 is what some experts suggest.
Anyway, he’s been terrific in leading the side to five consecutive victories after SRH had lost their first two matches. He’s been excellent in marshalling his bowlers, astute in judging the phase in which the likes of Umran Malik and Natarajan should be used.
A better team with a stronger bowling attack compared to previous seasons, and Sanju Samson has given Rajasthan Royals fans the hopes of not just a playoff spot – but for their second IPL title.
Samson has gone the audacious way of picking a five frontline bowling attack at the cost of a shallow depth in the batting line-up. All of his batters have been in good form and have vindicated the decision of their captain and management. And though he has perhaps the best bowling attack in the tournament at his disposal, Samson has been shrewd in choosing the overs and match-ups, for instance, he’s kept one over of Chahal for the death overs and the leggie has more often than not delivered.
Leading for the first time in the IPL, Mayank Agarwal has been a group leader in the Punjab Kings’ setup that boasts of some of the world’s most destructive and renowned white-ball players.
Despite some collective failures, Agarwal has backed his batters to play in the gung-ho approach that they had decided before the start of the tournament. Agarwal understands that such a style of batting needs players to be assured of their place in the eleven and that’s been noticed with fewer changes in the Punjab line-up than it had been in previous seasons.
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) April 29, 2022
Agarwal, who is having a decent season with the bat, also now seems to have found a workable combination with the inclusion of Rishi Dhawan, showing trust in the all-rounder who got an IPL game after 6 years.
Into his second season as the captain, Rishabh Pant is still doing the tactical mistakes that he did last season when Delhi Capitals failed to reach the playoffs despite a top two finish. His extra confidence in Lalit Yadav’s off-spin had already cost them a game against RR and could have done against KKR as well, but DC found a way to win. Some of the shuffling in the batting order has also been disputable.
However, Pant also needs to be given plenty of credit for the revival of the career of Kuldeep Yadav and for showing immense trust in the leg-spinner’s skills. Pant was lauded by everyone for handling the team well when covid-19 rocked the Capitals but they still came out and won the game vs PBKS.
Shreyas Iyer left Delhi Capitals in search of a franchise that would give him the captaincy duties; in Kolkata Knight Riders he got one. The associated clicked early in the season as KKR won three of their first four matches but now have slipped to five consecutive defeats. Iyer’s failure as a leader has been the inability to lift his team and which seems an impossible task now.
While head coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Shreyas Iyer have talked about giving freedom to their batters, asking them to play fearlessly, most of their batters haven’t done that, an indication of the insecurity crept in them due to the constant changing and chopping of the team; KKR have made the most number of changes so far in the IPL. Iyer also hasn’t been any praiseworthy in using match-ups and rotating bowlers.
The five-time IPL winning captain, Rohit Sharma, has got the worst – on experience and quality – Mumbai Indians team in the last five seasons. And he’s failed to get this squad to click, with him claiming regularly that the failure of a strong collective performance has deprived them of a win in their first 8 matches.
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) April 25, 2022
Sharma has admitted to being unable to provide his side with a strong start with the bat, but he ought to take more responsibility for his shocking bowling decisions – not giving Bumrah the new ball is akin to not opening the batting with Chris Gayle – and the changes in and out of the eleven were more hopeful than confident moves (the exclusion of Tim David after a couple of failures continues to baffle fans and experts). Sharma still has a decent squad at his disposal, and most of MI’s losses have been close.
According to CSK’s performances, Ravindra Jadeja could have been given 5 marks here but the other 2.5 marks have been assigned to MS Dhoni, who virtually still remains CSK’s captain with Jadeja only having the official tag.
Jadeja’s own batting has dipped and seems bogged down by the pressure of captaincy. He continued to rely heavily on MS Dhoni on the field to make the field changes, talk to the bowlers, and keep CSK alive with the bat. Jadeja has largely been just a bowling change-maker – also perhaps influenced by Dhoni’s suggestions – on the field.