3 players with the least international experience before making their captaincy debut in the IPL

Nitish Rana will take over the reins at KKR for IPL 2023, for the duration Shreyas Iyer remains sidelined (Picture Credits: IPL).
Nitish Rana will take over the reins at KKR for IPL 2023, for the duration Shreyas Iyer remains sidelined (Picture Credits: IPL).

Captaincy is a trait that is often viewed significantly in a tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL). Managing a team of various cultures and backgrounds for nearly two months and aiming for the biggest crown is no mean task.

Nitish Rana is set to find out more about the same after being appointed the interim captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for the 2023 season.

With Shreyas Iyer set to miss the initial stages of the competition due to a back injury, Rana will make his debut as captain in the tournament.

He has led Delhi in domestic cricket, although leading a franchise in the most lucrative T20 league is a completely different kettle of fish. It is worth noting that Rana has very little international experience to bank upon as well, having played a lone ODI and two T20Is in 2021.

He is set to become the player with the least international experience to make his captaincy bow in the IPL when KKR play the Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Saturday, April 1.

Whose record is he set to break though? Here's a look into the three players who made their IPL captaincy debut with the least number of international games under their belt.


#3 Shreyas Iyer (12 matches)

Shreyas Iyer's absence will be a huge blow to KKR ahead of IPL 2023 (File image.)
Shreyas Iyer's absence will be a huge blow to KKR ahead of IPL 2023 (File image.)

Shreyas Iyer was just 12 international matches old when Gautam Gambhir handed over the reins at the Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) nearly halfway through IPL 2018.

Shreyas debuted for India in a T20I against New Zealand in November 2017 before making his ODI bow a month later.

He played six ODIs and an equal number of T20Is before captaining his first IPL fixture, incidentally against his current team KKR.

He made it a memorable one, blasting an unbeaten 93 which was then the highest score by a player on captaincy debut in the league.

Shreyas led the Capitals to the final of the 2020 edition and has also established himself as a mainstay in the Indian team across formats.


#2 Karun Nair (8 matches)

Karun Nair was the toast of the nation when he struck a blistering triple-century against England in the Chennai Test of 2016.

It was in ODIs, however, that he made his international bow, playing a couple of them in Zimbabwe earlier that year.

Having played just two ODIs and six Tests, Karun broke the record for the player with the least international experience to make his captaincy debut in the IPL.

Having stepped into the shoes of an injured Zaheer Khan, it turned out to be a forgettable outing for the Daredevils, who were rolled over for 67 by the Kings XI Punjab.

Karun went on to captain in two more games before a fit-again Zaheer took the reins back. Incidentally, Karun never played for India again and didn't play a single game for Karnataka in the 2022-23 domestic season.


#1 Sanju Samson (7 matches)

After the Rajasthan Royals (RR) released Steven Smith ahead of IPL 2021, they appointed Sanju Samson as their captain.

He emerged as a tragic hero in his first outing as skipper, becoming the first player to score a century on captaincy debut in the league, albeit in a losing cause.

Chasing a massive 222 against the Punjab Kings (PBKS), the Royals rode on the back of Samson's 63-ball 119 as the game went down to the wire.

Needing five runs to win off two deliveries, he denied Chris Morris the strike and took it upon himself but ended up holing out as the Kings prevailed.

Samson had played a mere seven T20Is for India prior to his debut as captain in the league. He has since gone on to play a lot more games in the format for the country, as well as make his ODI debut, while leading RR to the IPL final in 2022.


How do you think Nitish Rana will fare as captain in IPL 2023? Let us know in the comments section!


Also read: Best playing XI of WPL 2023 ft. Harmanpreet Kaur, Grace Harris

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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