The speculation over who would don the captaincy mantle for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the upcoming edition of IPL has finally watered down with the anointment of Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik while fellow keeper Robin Uthappa was named the vice-captain.
While his ascension was not an unexpected move, the decision managed to evoke some raised eyebrows with several fans and critics alike questioning his elevation.
What these critics are pointing out is the fact that Karthik is relatively a newbie who is not familiar with the KKR dressing room but still was made the captain at the expense of Uthappa who has been a part of KKR since 2011 and has already been a part of one of the two victorious campaigns in 2014 for KKR.
Robin Uthappa's strong case for contention
It must be noted that Uthappa had observed senior statesman Gautam Gambhir's captaincy style from close quarters for the past seven years and would have picked his brains to an extent on how to effectively marshal his troops.
He also has an excellent working relationship with the top management of KKR and has built a terrific rapport with head coach Jacques Kallis, a mandatory trait for any successful captain. He has taken the team's responsibility head-on and contributed handsomely to KKR's twin victories, a mark of leadership.
Karthik, on the other hand, kept on switching teams and never had the opportunity to settle at a single franchise. This meant that Karthik never had the privilege of playing with a relaxed mindset, a prerequisite for a captain. He had perennially been unsure about his fate in every franchise he had been part of.
Reason for Dinesh Karthik's ascension
Despite Uthappa's credentials, one might wonder why he was denied the top role. However, one glance at Karthik's captaincy record suggests that the KKR management was after all not wrong.
Under his captaincy, Tamil Nadu lifted the 2009-10 edition of the Vijay Hazare trophy. He led India Red to its maiden title in the 2017-18 edition of the Duleep trophy. Karthik also has successfully led his franchise Tuti Patriots to glory in the inaugural edition of the TamilNadu Premier League (TNPL).
Along with these factors, it must also be noted that Karthik was earmarked as a future captain by none other than former coach Greg Chappell. When a legend of Chappell's stature makes such an observation, it must carry some weight. Karthik has an impressive 72% winning rate as captain in the T-20 format while Uthappa lacks sufficient captaincy experience.
Thus one can see that Karthik's appointment was a well thought out move and not a knee-jerk reaction. One would hope that he will go on to prove his leadership mettle in the IPL.