The 2021 season of the Indian Premier League [IPL] is all set to take center-stage from April 09 with defending champions Mumbai Indians locking horns with the Virat Kohl-led Royal Challengers Bangalore [RCB] at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
The IPL is a grueling two-month-long competition and during the course of the season, players getting injured is a common sight. And, so a franchise bench strength is tested to the hilt.
Generally, the teams that are successful boast of ideal backups in case their main players get injured.
This article aims to explore the backup options of each of the eight franchises in case their captain gets injured.
Here’s a look at alternate Captaincy options of all the 8 teams if their regular skippers face sanctions or injuries:
Mumbai Indians- Kieron Pollard
One of the many reasons behind Mumbai Indians sustained dominance in the IPL in recent years is that they have ideal backups in almost every department.
Even in the captaincy department, they have an outstanding backup option in Kieron Pollard as was evident in the last season. Pollard took over the leadership duties when Rohit Sharma suffered a hamstring injury, leading MI to 3 wins in four matches.
A shrewd, street-smart customer, Kieron Pollard is one of the best T20 captains going around in world cricket, and if Rohit once again gets ruled out due to injury, expect the West Indian swashbuckler to fill in for him with aplomb.
Kolkata Knight Riders- Dinesh Karthik
Well! Dinesh Karthik was the designated leader of the Kolkata Knight Riders at the start of the last season. And, he didn’t do badly either.
The Tamil Nadu captain led KKR to four wins in the seven matches he spearheaded and it was purely because of his poor batting form that may have forced him to relinquish the duties.
Karthik should fill in Morgan if the England skipper picks up an injury.
Royal Challengers Bangalore- AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers has been the bedrock of the Royal Challengers Bangalore batting unit alongside skipper Virat Kohli since he made his debut for the franchise in 2011.
After Virat, ABD is the first sure-shot (alongside Yuzvendra Chahal) name in RCB’s playing 11.
And, so, if Virat picks up an injury and is unavailable for a few matches then the former South African captain will take over the leadership role.
AB de Villiers has never led RCB during his decade-long association with the franchise but he has enough captaincy experience thanks to his stint with the Proteas and SA’s domestic circuit.
Rajasthan Royals- Jos Buttler
Rajasthan Royals named whirlwind wicketkeeper-batsman from Kerala, Sanju Samson as their new captain ahead of the 2021 IPL auction.
The inaugural champions let go of former Aussie skipper Steve Smith, who presided over a poor campaign last year that saw them claim the dreaded wooden spoon.
So, if god forbid, Samson gets injured, then who will lead the Royals in his absence? The Royals do not have any natural leader in their set-up and so with Jos Buttler being their vice-captain, he could step in and take over the leadership role.
Buttler’s only experience of leading a team in white-ball cricket was the recent ODI series against India. And, it will be interesting to see how he goes about his business if such a situation arises.
Chennai Super Kings- Faf du Plessis
Now, this is something no Indian cricket fan, let alone a CSK would want to see: MS Dhoni getting injured.
However, life is a fickle beast and one just can’t take anything for granted. So, in the worst-case scenario, who should lead CSK if the legendary MSD gets injured?
According to reports, CSK hasn’t reinstated Suresh Raina as vice-captain and Ravindra Jadeja is likely to be the permanent deputy of MS.
However, in my opinion, if MSD does get injured, CSK should appoint Faf du Plessis as the stand-in captain. Du Plessis is a certain starter in the playing 11 and he has a proven track record as captain of South Africa, unlike Jaddu, who does not have much experience, or Raina, who underwhelmed as a leader during his full-time stint with Gujarat Lions.
Punjab Kings- Chris Gayle
Punjab Kings will once again be led by the stylish KL Rahul in the upcoming season.
Rahul was the cornerstone of Punjab’s batting in the last IPL and his captaincy too improved as the tournament progressed.
PBKS can’t afford to lose KL to injury but if that indeed turns out to be the case then who should lead the franchise in his absence?
Like RR, Punjab does not a proven captain in their set-up except Chris Gayle, who has led the West Indies and CPL franchises in the past. And so, in KL’s absence, we might see the ‘Universe Boss’ leading the franchise.
Delhi Capitals- Ravichandran Ashwin
Delhi Capitals have already lost their regular skipper and one of their premier batsman in the form of Shreyas Iyer and the last thing they would want now is for stand-in captain and their most explosive batsman in Rishabh Pant to get injured.
However, if that does happen then DC still has enough backup options in the captaincy department. They have the likes of R Ashwin, Steve Smith, Shikhar Dhawan, and Ajinkya Rahane, who have led different IPL teams in the past.
If Pant gets injured or is unavailable for selection due to other reasons, then, in my opinion, R Ashwin would be the perfect choice to lead the team. Yes, Ashwin did not have the best of times as Punjab Kings captain but unlike his previous stint, he will have a better group of players to lead at the Capitals, and given his personal form in recent months, it might just bring out the best in him.
SunRisers Hyderabad- Kane Williamson
Just like Mumbai Indians, SunRisers Hyderabad has a proven backup captain in the form of New Zealand’s Kane Williamson at their disposal in case David Warner misses a few games due to injury.
Williamson has the experience of leading the Kiwis in all formats since 2015. Not only that, the New Zealand cricket has also led the Orange Army in the past. When David Warner got suspended due to his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal back in 2018, Williamson led the team beautifully, taking them all the way to the finals where they eventually lost to CSK.