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IPL Captains Who Stepped Down in the Middle of a Season

IPL is getting bigger with year and with the addition of two new team to the pack, it is quite fascinating to see the contest. Chennai Super Kings and their relationship with MS Dhoni is quite popular around the globe. Cricket fans were awestruck this season when MS decided to hand over the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja for a better future for the franchise. But now, things haven’t quite worked out right for the four time champions. The most significant IPL news was Ravindra Jadeja relinquishing the leadership of Chennai Super Kings to MS Dhoni. The Chennai Super Kings made the Announcement on 30th April that Dhoni will captain the Yellow army yet again. With Jadeja’s guidance, the squad was not living up to the expectations they had set for itself. It appeared to be entirely out of sync.

Jadeja was not happy with the way he performed after having the added responsibility of being the captain of the side. The burden of responsibility was definitely apparent in Jadeja’s performance, as he seemed nothing like the Jadeja we fully understand. Following a string of setbacks, he handed over the leadership to the greatest in the sport, and CSK defeated the very first game handily after Dhoni’s return. But, this was not the first instance in which a captain of an IPL side was replaced mid way through the season. This had happened more than a few times due to different reasons throughout the entire history of the competition. 

Here is the full list of captains who stepped down in the middle of an IPL season

2008: VVS Laxman – Adam Gilchrist

In the inaugural edition of the IPL, most sides had an icon player signed before the actual auction. VVS Laxman was the assigned player for the Hyderabad side and he was made captain. They had a poor start to the season even though they had many star players in their side. The longest stretch of matches lost in the whole competition belongs to the Deccan Chargers in the inaugural season and is still an unbroken record. They lost 12 of the 14 games in that season leon bet. They had some of the legends like Herschelle Gibbs, Shahid Afridi, and Andrew Symonds. Because of their continuous string of losses people like Shahid Afridi were not happy with the way Laxman managed the side and they had an opinion that someone like Laxaman was not suited. It was at that time that the management decided to change the captain. The destructive Aussie opener Adam Gilchrist was made their captain in the middle of the season. Even though they finished last in the points table, they came back strong in the next season by becoming champions under the leadership of Adam Gilchrist. 

2009: Kevin Pietersen – Anil Kumble

Royal Challengers also had a star Indian batter as their icon player in the inaugural season of IPL. Rahul Dravid was assigned as their captain at first. But, the legend decided to step down from the leadership after the completion of the first season. Kevin Pitersen was a superstar across formats at that time and RCB bagged him for a record 1.55 million ahead of the next season. After the first season, the management decided to stick with the English batter as their new captain. The IPL is the most difficult cricket competition on the planet. These difficulties and pressures which come from anchoring a team really aren’t simple to cope up with. During Pietersen’s guidance, RCB missed four of their first five matches. Vijay Mallya, the administrator of the RCB at the time, lost tolerance and sacked Pietersen from the leadership. Anil Kumble, famous Indian leg spinner, has indeed been nominated as Pietersen’s replacement. Following his supervision, the team performed admirably, winning 8 of the following ten games and reaching the finals. Unfortunately, they were defeated in the final by the Deccan Chargers.

2012: Daniel Vettori – Virat Kohli

The Royal Challengers Bangalore enter each IPL campaign as favorites, however despite 14 years, they have been unable to earn a trophy. Three times, they have gone closest to winning the championship but have yet to lift the trophy. Perhaps one of them three times was in 2011 when Daniel Vettori guided the team to the final. There are only a few teams like Chennai which used to stick with the same captain every year and RCB is certainly not one of those. The very next season after RCb faced the loss in the finals, Virat Kohli was named the successor of Daniel Vettori. During the start of that season RCB only managed to win two of five games and the management decided to change the role from Vettori to Kohli. He was a rising star at that time and making him the captain at that age was a huge risk taken by the management. However, he was named as the permanent captain of the franchise in 2013 and continued to captain the side for eight more years. They had gone through a lot of highs and lows with the course of time that included the heartbreaking final loss against SRH in 2016. It was the third time that RCB came till the final and failed to cross the line at the big stage. 

2012: Kumar Sangakkara – Cameron White

Even though Deccan Chargers were champions of the second edition of IPL in 2019, the franchise once again made a  change in their leadership which eventually was their final season in the competition. The Sri Lankan wicket keeper batter Kumar Sangakkara was the captain of the side in that season and due to continuous five losses the franchise decided to make Cameron White to captain the side. The sixth match of Deccan Chargers was abandoned due to rain and Sangakkara even dropped himself from the side. The franchise had to stick with the Aussie all rounder Cameron White as a result. But, the change in captaincy never had a real change in the fortunes of the franchise as they went on to lose five of their next eight games. It was the same year that the franchise was permanently banned from participating in the competition for breaching the contract. 

2013: Ricky Ponting – Rohit Sharma

Mumbai was never really a successful franchise during the initial years and Sachin Tendulkar was the icon player and captain of the side during the start for them. It was in 2013 that Ricky Ponting took over captaincy of the side, but fate was once against them as they lost their first four games of that season. After that, the historic decision was made mid-way through the competition to hand over the captaincy to Rohit Sharma. This competition changed dramatically once Rohit took over as captain, as MI went on to win the cup. It became Sachin Tendulkar’s final IPL tournament, and the squad honored the victory to the superstar himself. It was the beginning of the complete dominance the side has shown over the years as they went on to create history by becoming the most successful franchise in the history of the tournament. They are the most title holders with a total of five victories to their name. But, at the end it is this bold decision to make Rohit the permanent captain that changed the fortune of the side forever. 

2013: Angelo Mathews – Aaron Finch

Pune Warriors India was a part of the IPL tournament for three years from 2011 to 2013. They have one of the worst trach records for a side in IPL as they finished in the bottom two all three times. It was a Maharashtra based IPl side which came and left with nothing to remember. They always appeared inferior over whichever side they played. They also had a shift in captaincy during their final year as Angelo Mathews stepped down making way for Aaron Finch. Like their previous seasons, they started the year 2013 pretty cheaply by winning just one game out of their first five. Due to the continuous string of failures Mathews decided to hand over the captaincy to Aaron Finch. It didn’t really make an impact on their side as they ended up with only four wins out of their sixteen league games. The only improvement was that they finished second last unlike last in their previous season. Following the year, the Pune-based group was disbanded owing to monetary concerns arising from the league’s yearly franchising fee value.

2014: Shikhar Dhawan – Darren Sammy

Sunrisers Hyderabad debuted in IPL in the year 2013 and Dhawan was the captain of the side and he was the leader for the most part of 2014 season as well. He is one of the prolific run getters in the whole competition’s history. Even though he used to be a star batter, he has a poor captaincy record behind him. Despite him being in the circuit for so long with a bundle of experience, he is not considered as a sharp captaincy candidate by franchises. The southpaw from Delhi was struggling with the bat in the 2014 season and his side had won only two of their first four matches. In order to maintain the workload of being a fulltime captain, Dhaawan decided to step down and hand it over to Caribbean superstar Darren Sammy. He was the skipper of the star studded West Indies side at that time and already had a world cup win under his belt in 2012.  Regarding different captains, the script did not work in the Hyderabad-based club’s favor, as they were unable to make the semifinals that year. After finishing that season, SRH released Sammy and eventually acquired a brilliant captain in David Warner, who led SRH to success in 2016.

2015: Shane Watson – Steve Smith

Rajasthan Royals never fails to impress the audience every season. They have produced some of the great match winners by giving youngsters an opportunity. They are the champions of the debut season of IPL and this feat was achieved under the leadership of Shane Warne. They had some of the legends of the game as captains like Shane Warne, Rahul Dravid, Graeme Smith, etc. They have always been competitive all these years and there were instances where they really let down the side as well. They were playing good cricket till 2015 where they lost four of their first 10 games. The destructive Australian all rounder Shane Watson was leading the side back then and for focusing more on his skills, he decided to hand over the captaincy to the young prospect Steve Smith. Smith performed admirably as skipper of the Rajasthan squad, leading them to the semifinals. They did not win the tournament, but they did have a superb leader in the shape of Smith, who represented the club for a long period as a skipper. And in 2020, Smith was sacked from the position to make Sanju Samson their permanent skipper. 

2016: David Miller – Murali Vijay

Punjab Kings holds one unique record of having the most number of captains for an IPL side. Having played 14 IPL editions, Punjab Kings have been unable to find a consistent set, since the bulk of their stars change each year. There were countless occasions in which they have chosen the incorrect player to captain their team. In 2016, the squad was struggling, and skipper David Miller was also out of touch. During the first six games, he only scored 76 runs. The organization opted to place the leadership in the hands of Murali Vijay, who was in strong batting form at the time and appeared assured. As a result, management opted to stick with him. The switch in leadership had little influence on the outcomes, as Punjab ended last in the standings and Vijay’s leadership tenure never got up. The Kings XI Punjab renamed themselves the Punjab Kings, but their prospects haven’t yet improved. Their only productive season was under the leadership of George Bailey where they ended up as runners up of the competition in 2014.

2018: Gautam Gambhir – Shreyas Iyer

Gautam Gambhir was one of the successful captains in the history of IPL and he made the Kolkata Knight Riders invincible by leading them to two titles. It was in 2018 when he was picked by the Delhi franchise which was Daredevils back then. Gambhir was made the captain of the side and he was quite happy for rejoining with his home side in the latter part of his career. He is one of the vastly experienced leaders ever in the IPL.  Gambhir, for whatever reason, was unable to win right away. Delhi lost five of their initial six games, and this made Gambhir resign as skipper. Shreyas Iyer, the promising Indian batter, was chosen Delhi’s captain in the midst of the tournament and performed admirably. Under Iyer’s leadership, Delhi claimed four of the following eight matches. They did not make the playoffs, but Iyer led the squad for two more years. Iyer was hospitalized prior to the IPL 2021, and Rishabh Pant was selected captain. Iyer returned to the IPL 2022 mega auctions, where KKR purchased him and appointed him as their new captain.

2019: Ajinkya Rahane – Steve Smith

Steve Smith was captaining Rajasthan Royals admirably and he even took the Rising Pune SuperGiants to the final of the competition in 2017 when both CSK and RR faced a two year ban from the IPL. It was at that time, the Sandpaper saga happened and there came a situation that Smith could no longer captain a side for that year. He was the Australian national team captain at that time and was sacked from that position as well. The Indian Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane was made the captain of the RR side in 2019 due to this reason and went on to lose six of their first 8 games and leadership did not fit Rahane, and he was never able to settle as one. Smith was fresh from suspension and the RR administration chose to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane from the IPL leadership. Rahane chose to resign since he was unable to turn the whole thing back. Subsequently, RR re-appointed Steve Smith as skipper of the Rajasthan franchise since he was a seasoned leader who had led Australia. After the leadership swap, Rajasthan placed 2nd in the standings , winning only 5 of their 14 games  that season. Smith led the Royals for another one year until hanging up the captaincy to Sanju Samson. 

2020: Dinesh Karthik – Eoin Morgan

Dinesh Karthik is regarded as among the finest accomplished wicketkeeper-batters in IPL ever. He used to be a part of several different franchises in the IPL. In the 2018 mega auction, he was purchased by the Kolkata Knight Riders, who were looking for a skipper and opted to go along with Karthik’s expertise. From 2018 until 2020, he was the captain of KKR. He was a very enthusiastic leader and was expressive on the ground. KKR were performing well in the midst of IPL 2020, despite winning four of their first league matches, but Karthik was not scoring runs. He became largely concerned with his performance with the bat and therefore opted to resign as captain, and KKR had a World Cup-winning skipper in the form of Eoin Morgan. As a result, Morgan was the obvious candidate to run the side. KKR finished sixth in the IPL 2020, securing seven of their fourteen league games. Morgan’s leadership did have an influence the next year, when KKR made it to the finals after a poor start to the competition, although they were defeated by Chennai Super Kings.

2021: David Warner – Kane Williamson

David Warner was fantastic throughout his time with the Hyderabad-based club. He made himself the most popular among the SRH players within the time he was at the franchise. As the skipper of SRH, he won three orange caps and an IPL trophy in 2016, scoring 848 runs. But, there came a time when Warner started having continuous failures with the bat. SRH did not meet expectations during the IPL 2021 season, winning only one of their initial seven games. The team’s poor result led to a quarrel among Warner and the SRH administration, which culminated in Kane Williamson being named captain. The shift in power had little effect on the outcome, as SRH concluded the campaign at the bottom of the standings. Warner was spotted applauding for SRH from the seats, displaying his devotion to the club. SRH did not sign him well before the 2022 IPL mega auction. The Delhi Capitals purchased the pocket-sized powerhouse for the 2022 IPL edition. After that, Warner came back to his form and regained his reputation of being a hard hitting opening batter.

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