The Indian Premier League (IPL), in its 13 completed seasons, has seen franchises triggering changes in their personnel, captains, and their other contingents. Perhaps, the most significant talking point amongst those is the change in the leadership position as it arrives on the backdrop of poor results or any other unprecedented and unavoidable reason.
The lucrative T20 league has witnessed almost all the franchises opting to change their skippers for some or other reason. While a few teams have reaped favourable results due to the adjustments, not every time it has worked for them. Most notably, Rohit Sharma’s ascendancy to the leadership position in 2013 turned Mumbai Indians’ fortunes around significantly.
Below are the instances in IPL where the franchises decided to change captains midway:
2008 – Adam Gilchrist takes over from VVS Laxman:
Before the inaugural season of IPL, VVS Laxman withdrew his status as the icon player for the Deccan Chargers. While VVS Laxman was an incredible Test batsman, he could not quite perform in the shortest format and struggled even as captain. In six games, the right-handed batsman managed only 155 runs at 31, maintaining a strike rate of 117.42.
With injury ruling him out, keeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist took charge. While Deccan Chargers’ fortunes were not reversible in 2008 as they won only two games that year and finished at eight, they bounced back next year. Gilchrist captained the Chargers to the IPL trophy, defeating the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final.
2009: Anil Kumble replaces Kevin Pietersen:
Royal Challengers Bangalore purchased Kevin Pietersen for a jaw-dropping amount of $1.55 million, making him one of the costliest players that year. But Kevin Pietersen did not deliver compelling performances with the bat, managing 93 runs in six matches and leading the franchise to only one win in three games.
With RCB plummeting to the bottom, the management appointed Anil Kumble as captain. He showed instant improvement in their performances, with the Royal Challengers reaching the final of the tournament. Kumble’s 16 fixtures also yielded 21 wickets, including figures of 4-0-16-14 in the tournament-decider.
2012: Kumar Sangakkara drops himself as Cameron White takes over:
While Kumar Sangakkara was a decent T20 cricketer, he could not do much in 2012 for the Deccan Chargers. The elegant left-handed batsman scraped through to 200 runs in 12 games at 18.18, forcing him to bench himself for the team. Sangakkara felt that the four best overseas players must be part of the eleven, leading to Cameron White donning the captain’s hat.
Yet, it made no difference as the Chargers ended up at the 7th spot in the points table, conjuring four victories in 16 games. As far as White’s performances went, it was encouraging, scoring 479 runs in 13 fixtures at 43.55, maintaining a strike rate of 149.69. But as a team, they remained mediocre at best.
2012: Daniel Vettori benches himself to make way for Virat Kohli:
While Daniel Vettori ushered the Royal Challengers Bangalore to the final in 2011, they could not climb the same heights under his watch the following year. Daniel Vettori’s five wickets in 2012 in nine games at 47 was also underwhelming compared to this 12 in 13 matches in 2011. Hence, the left-arm spinner dropped himself to make way for Virat Kohli
Under Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers performed well, but not enough to carry them to the knockout stage. Bangalore finished with eight victories that year, ending the tournament at the fifth spot. Kohli, who still holds the captaincy position, has not been able to lead the side to the summit. The best result they achieved under the 32-year was making the final in 2016.
2013: Ricky Ponting drops himself to make way for Rohit Sharma:
Mumbai Indians roped in Ricky Ponting for INR 2.1 crores in the sixth IPL auction and appointed him captain. The former Australian skipper and one of the prolific run-getters for his nation could not succeed in the shortest format. Ponting managed only 52 runs in six matches that year at 10.40 and a woeful strike rate of 69.33.
Hence, the Tasmanian decided to bench himself and pulled off a masterstroke by thrusting Rohit Sharma as the skipper. The move worked wonders for the franchise as Mumbai lifted their first IPL trophy that year, with Sharma also amassing 538 runs in 19 matches. Rohit would go on to lead the franchise to four more titles, with the latest coming in 2020.
2014: Darren Sammy Takes over from Shikhar Dhawan:
As a captain who led West Indies to a T20 World Cup victory, Darren Sammy was chosen to lead SunRisers Hyderabad in 2014, replacing Shikhar Dhawan. Shikhar Dhawan dragged himself to 215 runs in ten fixtures, with a high score of 45. Hence, it prompted the SunRisers Hyderabad to name Sammy as the skipper.
The West Indian all-rounder captained the Orange Army in four matches, winning two and losing two. Nevertheless, Sammy’s own performances with both bat and ball were not encouraging enough, scoring 108 runs in ten games and taking three wickets. SunRisers finished that edition in the sixth spot.
2015: Shane Watson gives up his captaincy to Steve Smith:
Steve Smith emerged as Rajasthan Royals’ skipper in 2015, with Shane Watson on the sidelines due to injury. Steve Smith led the Royals outstandingly, scripting five wins in five games, beating Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, SunRisers Hyderabad, and Chennai Super Kings. Watson returned as the skipper against Punjab, which was their first loss that year.
After a few matches of leading, Watson gave up the position to concentrate on his captaincy, paving the way for Smith to return to the task again. The right-handed batsman lifted them to the playoffs; however, they lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator. Smith made 293 runs in 14 games that year at 26.4 with a strike rate of 132.58.
2016: Murali Vijay replaces David Miller:
After an underwhelming 2015 season for Kings XI Punjab, led by George Bailey, David Miller stepped in for the role. But under David Miller, Kings XI Punjab lost five of their first six games. Miller’s own form with the bat was awful, managing 76 runs in six matches. Hence, the franchise appointed Murali Vijay as the captain.
Murali Vijay had 143 runs up to that point, with a high score of 53. Nevertheless, it did not make a monumental difference as Kings XI Punjab missed out on a playoffs spot for the second year in a row and ended at the bottom of the points table, eking out four victories.
2018: Gautam Gambhir steps down; Shreyas Iyer to the fore:
Kolkata Knight Riders shockingly released Gautam Gambhir ahead of the 2018 edition and Delhi Daredevils secured his services. But Gautam Gambhir, the captain, his form had dipped as he managed only 55 runs in six games at 17 with a strike rate of 96.59. Hence, he dropped himself, a move that Shreyas Iyer’s rise as captain.
Shreyas Iyer’s appointment did not make much difference that year, as Delhi ended up in the bottom with five wins and nine losses. But the right-handed batsman ushered the Capitals to the playoffs in 2019 for the first time since 2012 and the finals in 2020. Iyer also made 93, one of the highest scores by an IPL captain on debut.
2019: Steve Smith replaces Ajinkya Rahane as captain:
In 2019, Rajasthan Royals decided to sack Ajinkya Rahane as captain, bringing in Steve Smith to lead the side. From their ninth match of the tournament, Steve Smith led the outfit as Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership resulted in only a couple of victories.
Steve Smith struck a match-winning fifty on his return as captain against the Mumbai Indians in Jaipur. However, with the damage already done and Smith’s captaincy also undergoing losses, the Royals finished their campaign at the seventh position.
2020: Eoin Morgan replaces Dinesh Karthik:
Kolkata Knight Riders pulled off a surprising move by ousting keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik as captain and installing Eoin Morgan in his place. The management had trust in Eoin Morgan to turn the Knight Riders’ fortunes, given he revolutionized England’s white-ball side. Karthik, who had been captaining Kolkata since 2018, had not done badly that year, leading them to four wins out of six.
Eoin Morgan’s reign as captain in the UAE last year was a mixed one since Kolkata suffered crushing losses to Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. And seven wins and as many defeats were not enough to secure them a playoff spot, missing out on it narrowly. Kolkata retained Morgan as captain for the IPL 2021 edition and his position is massively under scrutiny due to his form with the bat and the team losing a string of matches.
2021: David Warner sacked, with Kane Williamson taking over:
David Warner’s unusual form in IPL 2021 affected SunRisers Hyderabad hugely as he has been one of their star batsmen for several years. The left-handed batsman’s knock of 57 in 55 balls against the Chennai Super Kings in a losing effort made the management sack him as captain. Before that match, SunRisers had lost four games and won only one.
Kane Williamson, who captained the side to the final in 2018, was appointed as the skipper. In Williamson’s first game as captain this year, Warner did not even have a place in the eleven. With their batting further thinned down, Rajasthan Royals beat them convincingly in Delhi and the captain made only 20 runs in that.