India pulled off a superb comeback to win the 1st ODI against England by a 66-run margin, but it wasn't all rosy for the hosts. No. 4 batsman Shreyas Iyer partially dislocated his shoulder while fielding, and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks of cricketing action.
This puts his participation in the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts on April 9, in doubt. The Delhi Capitals (DC) skipper led his team to the final of the tournament last year, and he's perhaps the most important player on the roster. In his absence, DC will need to appoint an inspirational leader - something that they've been without for a majority of their time in the league.
DC have a number of astute leaders in the team. Here are 3 players who could replace Shreyas Iyer as IPL 2021 captain for DC.
Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane - Although both players have led IPL teams (Rising Pune Supergiant and Rajasthan Royals) in the past, their place in the DC playing XI isn't confirmed.
Prithvi Shaw - He led Mumbai to the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy title and India to the 2018 U-19 World Cup title, but his performances in IPL 2020 weren't encouraging enough to entrust him with the role of captain.
#3 Ravichandran Ashwin (has captained PBKS in the IPL)
Ravichandran Ashwin, who captained the Punjab Kings (then Kings XI Punjab) in the 2019 IPL, was traded to the Delhi Capitals ahead of the 2020 season. The off-spinner is one of the smartest cricketing minds in the world at the moment, and could easily undertake a leadership role for the side.
Ashwin has scalped 138 wickets in 154 IPL matches at an economy rate of 6.87 to be placed sixth on the all-time Purple Cap list. He picked up 13 wickets last year at an economy rate of 7.66, and excelled on pitches that didn't offer spinners much assistance.
Ashwin being the captain would take some pressure off the batsmen in the side, who'll have enough on their plate in the absence of Iyer. He could also work well with coach Ricky Ponting, although the duo have had some differing opinions in the past.
#2 Shikhar Dhawan (captained DC in IPL 2020 when Iyer was injured)
Interestingly, Shreyas Iyer injured his shoulder during IPL 2020 as well, while playing against the Rajasthan Royals on October 14. He had to go off the field, and in his absence, Shikhar Dhawan was named the stand-in captain for DC (it must be noted that Pant missed that game with injury).
The same could happen again in IPL 2021. Dhawan has a truckload of experience, and has captained the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past. The opener finished last year's tournament second on the Orange Cap list with over 600 runs, and form certainly isn't an issue.
Dhawan being captain would ease the burden on the youngsters in the side, and his veteran leadership could bring the best out of the players on the DC roster.
#1 Rishabh Pant (has played for DC since 2016)
A player who's been part of the roster since 2016, one-club man Rishabh Pant is one of the cornerstones of the DC playing XI. The dashing keeper has a keen understanding of the principles of the franchise, and could seamlessly transition into a leadership role.
Find the list of captains with most IPL titles here.
Pant has scored 2,079 runs in 68 matches at an average of 35.23 and a strike rate of 151.97, and captaincy could elevate his game to the next level. The 23-year-old has captained the Delhi domestic side in the past, and has enough experience on the IPL stage to lead the team without too many difficulties.
Also, being a keeper, Pant will be able to keep a keen eye on proceedings in the middle. However, DC must be wary of not putting too much on his plate, especially with the T20 World Cup on the horizon.