Being an IPL team captain is a mighty tough job. A look at its history will tell you why

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalApr 23, 2023 | 08:00

Being an IPL team captain is a mighty tough job. A look at its history will tell you why

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) threw in a surprise on Thursday (April 20), right before their match against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Mohali. Virat Kohli returned as the captain of the team with the incumbent captain Faf du Plessis being included in the team as an Impact Player.

Kohli was the captain of RCB from 2013 to 2021 and led the team to the playoffs on for occasions. But the team couldn’t win the IPL trophy. This led to Kohli announcing in 2021 that he is stepping down from the captaincy of the team.


Kohli might be considered one of the the luckiest captains in IPL as he maintained his spot as the captain despite not being able to win the tournament. No other captain in the history of IPL has been given the role of a skipper for 8 years despite not being able to win it once.

On the other hand, the tournament has been harsh on several senior players and captains.Captains have been shunted out of the teams judged only on 2 months of performance. 

Why is captaincy such a tough job in IPL?

Being a captain of a team in IPL is by far the most challenging job for any cricketer. The franchises who have pumped crores of rupees in the squads want results at any cost.

Once Gautam Gambhir had said that though he won two IPL trophies as a skipper of KKR, but in those 7 years he could never enjoy the success because of the tremendous pressure. He was being paid an amount of Rs 11 crore per season, and to live up to those expectations was difficult for him.

And when the team couldn’t win the tournament from 2014-2017, despite qualifying the playoffs twice, the management decided to reduce the pay of Gambhir by releasing him and then buying him back at a lesser price in 2018. But Gambhir, knowing that this would be an insult to his stature, asked the franchise not to retain him.


He was then acquired by Delhi Daredevils and became the new captain of the side. 

Gambhir isn’t the first one who had to deal with the tremendous pressure of delivering as a captain in IPL. There have been many senior cricketers who have been pushed to the wall by the franchises. 

Cricketers who were removed as captains after just one season:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: MS Dhoni, a cricketer who every franchise wanted to rope in had an experience like this in 2016 when he was the captain of a newly introduced team Rising Pune SuperGiants, owned by RP-SPG group, Sanjiv Goenka. 

Dhoni was captain of a rather weak squad which had the likes of Saurabh Tiwary, Ashok Dinda, RP Singh, and other players who weren’t too good. Pune finished at the second last spot on the points table and Dhoni was sacked as the captain for the next season and Steve Smith was made the new skipper. 

Sanjiv Goenka’s elder brother Harsh Goenka had taken several potshots against Dhoni after the team reached the final in 2017 under Smith. But in 2018 Chennai Super Kings returned to the tournament and Dhoni answered back by winning the IPL trophy that year.


Gautam Gambhir: Something similar happened with two-time  IPL champion Gautam Gambhir. When Delhi Daredevils (DD) lost five out of six games in 2018 under Gambhir’s captaincy, he was made to step down as the captain and was replaced by Shreyas Iyer.

Gautam Gambhir was dropped from the Delhi Daredevils team after the team lost five out of first six matches under his captaincy. Photo: PTI

Gambhir was not even included in the playing XI and he expressed his displeasure about it. Later, in an interview, Gambhir said that he didn’t expect to be left out of playing XI and if it would have been his decision not to play, he wouldn’t be even sitting at the dugout with other players.

Yuvraj Singh: Yuvraj Singh was the captain of Sahara Pune Warriors in 2011, but the team finished last under his captaincy. Pune Warriors, owned by Sahara India, sacked Singh as the captain and appointed Sourav Ganguly as the new captain next season.

According to Ganguly, he received a call from Subrata Roy, Chairman of Sahara India one day. When Ganguly went to meet Roy, he was told that the management wants him to lead the side for them in 2012.

In his autobiography ‘A Century Is Not Enough’, Ganguly said that he was shocked by the statement and felt that it would be unfair on Yuvraj Singh. He called Singh right after the meeting and conveyed this to him. Yuvraj responded by saying that he knew about the decision.

David Warner: The former Sunrisers Hyderabad captain, who led the team to victory in IPL in 2016, was dealt harshly by the management in 2021 when the team lost nearly 6 matches in a row under his captaincy.

David Warner was removed from SRH playing XI after the team had a poor start in 2021 losing many games in the initial stages of the tournament.

Not only was Warner removed as captain and replaced by Kane Williamson, he was even dropped from the playing XI and was not even allowed to go to the ground. His former Australian teammate Brett Lee said that the Australian batter who once led the side to IPL championship, was indeed dealt harshly by the management. 

Ravindra Jadeja: Chennai Super Kings had developed a disdain for Ravindra Jadeja last season when the team under his captaincy lost a number of matches. He was shunted out of the team under the pretext the he had suffered an injury.

In reality, it was his inability to perform as the captain that had irked the franchise and they wanted him out for the rest of the season. It was also speculated that Jadeja might never return to CSK after their bitter relationship. But Dhoni intervened and held a long chat with Jadeja ensuring his comeback in 2023. 

The dark side of being an IPL captain

In IPL, franchises owners have their say much more than the coaches and the team players.

This is not like international cricket where the selectors have your backing. In IPL franchise owners are the real bosses and they directly influence the team selection and all other major decisions.

A cricketer or a captain doesn’t hold a magic wand in his hand by which he can turn around the fortunes of a team in 2 months. When cricketers from different parts of the world come under one umbrella, it is very difficult to frame a right combination of players all the time.

Kohli and Dhoni are some of the lucky ones who have been supported by their franchises over the years. Otherwise, a bad season can horribly change things for a captain in a tournament like IPL.

Last updated: April 23, 2023 | 08:00
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