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IPL 2021: Ranking the captains of all 8 teams after the league stage

MS Dhoni [C] led CSK to a top-two finish
MS Dhoni [C] led CSK to a top-two finish
Sai Krishna
FEATURED WRITER

The playoffs of the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) are finally here, with the Delhi Capitals (DC) taking on the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Qualifier 1 later today.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have made another Eliminator, in which they will face the resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) suffered an embarrassing league-stage exit on net run rate, while the Rajasthan Royals (RR) and the Punjab Kings (PBKS) had their moments but failed to capitalize. The Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) were never really in the playoff hunt.

Captaincy has been in the spotlight this season with a mega-auction and potentially two new franchises on the agenda ahead of the 2022 edition. In this article, we rank the captains of all eight teams at the end of IPL 2021's league stage.


#8 KKR - Eoin Morgan - 4th in IPL 2021

A record Eoin Morgan would not like to see. https://t.co/Vl9iOxeVJ5

KKR made a remarkable recovery in the UAE leg to clinch a playoff spot, and their revamped approach was there for all to see. So it's slightly harsh to place Eoin Morgan in eighth on this list, but a couple of inexcusable tactical calls and a run of miserable individual batting form have led to the KKR skipper being labeled the worst captain on display in IPL 2021.

Morgan has barely averaged double figures this tournament. His decision to take Varun Chakravarthy out of the attack against RCB came under severe criticism, and he also made a few out-of-the-box bowling changes that didn't plan out. Most importantly, he has done nothing of note with the bat in IPL 2021.

Morgan could move up the list if KKR give a good account of themselves in the playoffs, but he hasn't covered himself in glory so far.


#7 PBKS - KL Rahul - 6th in IPL 2021

KL Rahul said "There is a lot of talk about the Strike Rate but only me and my team knows which role is given to me".

PBKS captain KL Rahul ended the league stage on a high note with a magnificent Player of the Match award against CSK, but on the whole his IPL 2021 captaincy campaign was disappointing. Despite being the current holder of the Orange Cap, Rahul couldn't express himself freely at the top of the order, which in turn had a snowball effect into the middle order.

More importantly, PBKS made a series of dubious selection calls throughout IPL 2021. Talented Indian stars like Ravi Bishnoi, Shahrukh Khan and Arshdeep Singh didn't play all league games, and Chris Gayle was pigeonholed into a No. 3 slot even when Mayank Agarwal was out with injury.

The end result was that PBKS missed out on the playoffs for a seventh successive season, establishing their name as arguably the least successful franchise in the history of the IPL.


#6 SRH - David Warner and Kane Williamson - 8th in IPL 2021

One bad year and a legend treated like this is totally unfair.. Being a fan of SRH I too am really disappointed on this decision of the team management..... Sad to see this legend in pain... Big fan of this man too as SRH has touched heights because if him only... @davidwarner31 https://t.co/J1m5ZkXgtQ

SRH were the only team to have two captains in IPL 2021, which is something that rarely yields results. David Warner led the team in the first few games before being sacked and dropped, with Kane Williamson replacing him. However, neither captain could boost the fortunes of SRH, who finished dead last in the points table.

Warner and Williamson weren't at their batting best, but it must be said that they didn't have the resources at their disposal to truly challenge for a playoff spot. An incapable middle order meant that SRH's perennial over-reliance on their openers eventually cost them, with the pace attack not stepping up to the plate either.

While Warner and Williamson were nowhere near the best captains of IPL 2021, they aren't placed lower because of the odds being stacked against them. The SRH management, on the other hand, which sacked Warner and selected a group of underperfoming players both at the auction and in the playing XI, deserves a lot of blame.


#5 RR - Sanju Samson - 7th in IPL 2021

Highest win percentage as RR captain 57.69 % -Steve Smith 57.50%- Rahul Dravid 56.25%- Shane Warne40.00%- Shane Watson37.50 %- Ajinkya Rahane35.71%- Sanju Samson With Smith as captain RR won 15 and lost 11 matches. Steve Smith deserved better treatment from RR https://t.co/erxIFhI9ZI

Sanju Samson's maiden season as IPL captain was eventful to say the least. He had his best campaign on a personal level, amassing a pile of runs to briefly hold the Orange Cap and playing a series of responsible knocks as his peers crumbled around him.

Although RR missed out on the playoffs again, Samson did his best given the circumstances. He braved a plethora of injuries and withdrawals to fight in almost every game, before a couple of batting collapses nipped his outside chance of making the playoffs in the bud.

Samson wasn't free of criticism, though. His call to play a few debutants during the most crucial part of the league stage copped some stick from experts, as well as his decision to stick by some of his trusted stars even when they weren't performing.


#4 MI - Rohit Sharma - 5th in IPL 2021

4 Captains Leaded IPL team for 100 matchesWorst Ranking in points tableRohit Sharma - 5*MS Dhoni - 7Gautam Gambhir - 7Virat Kohli - 8#MIvSRH https://t.co/xtQmvqWICw

Rohit Sharma saw his team miss out on the playoffs despite being the defending champions and one of the strongest teams entering the tournament. The MI captain had yet another middling season with the bat, and while his captaincy wasn't poor, he couldn't motivate his team into making a comeback in the UAE leg.

MI's misfiring middle order was the biggest source of their worries in IPL 2021, with Hardik Pandya having a miserable season as a specialist batter. Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard were highly inconsistent, while Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav suffered a drastic dip in form at a crucial stage of the league phase.

Although MI distinctly underperformed in IPL 2021, Rohit can't be blamed entirely for his batters' failures. He could've and should've done better, though.


#3 RCB - Virat Kohli - 3rd in IPL 2021

Important win before the big match on Monday. Well played Bharat & Maxi πŸ‘πŸ‘@RCBTweets https://t.co/qFEwKQLSsG

Virat Kohli's RCB have entered the playoffs for the second season running, and this time they were among the best teams in the competition. Sticking by his players even when they were going through a rough patch and not making a host of changes, Kohli has managed to get the best out of several players in the RCB squad.

Glenn Maxwell has had arguably his best-ever IPL season, while others like Mohammed Siraj, KS Bharat, Devdutt Padikkal and Shahbaz Ahmed have been excellent for the side. Kohli himself has been underwhelming with the bat, with his strike rate and intent in the middle overs being questionable, but he has still contributed regular fifties.

In his last season as IPL captain, Kohli has done enough to be placed second on this list. Can he go further and solidify his RCB legacy with an elusive title triumph?


#2 CSK - MS Dhoni - 2nd in IPL 2021

To think Dhoni made that adjustment of having fielders more straighter to Pollard more than 10 years ago is pretty insane. One of the greatest moves in his captaincy career.

MS Dhoni's batting form has been abysmal. On this list, apart from Morgan, he is the only one who has contributed next to nothing with the bat. But Dhoni is still second by virtue of his exceptional captaincy and the ability to get the best out of his players when needed.

Dhoni backed Ruturaj Gaikwad to come good even when the youngster was struggling miserably and has managed to extract every ounce of potential from a bowling attack that has neither a strike bowler nor a wrist-spinner. His decision to play Moeen Ali at No. 3 yielded great dividends, while almost every bowling change he made bore fruit.

The end result was a top-two finish, which was something nobody gave CSK a chance of doing when IPL 2021 commenced. Dhoni will look to make it four IPL titles with CSK in the coming weeks.


#1 DC - Rishabh Pant - 1st in IPL 2021

Appreciate the wishes, @DineshKarthik bhaiya πŸ‘Œ twitter.com/dineshkarthik/…

When Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of IPL 2021 with a shoulder injury, Rishabh Pant wasn't an obvious captaincy choice. Experienced veterans like Shikhar Dhawan and Ravichandran Ashwin, who had captained IPL franchises before, were in the running. But DC trusted a youthful captain in Pant, and boy has he delivered.

A couple of questionable tactical decisions aside, such as his call to bowl Marcus Stoinis at the death against RCB, Pant has been bold and successful in IPL 2021. The young keeper has taken responsibility with the bat, shuffled his limited (in quantity, not quality) bowling resources well and has led his team to win after win even though Iyer missed half the season.

DC finished at the top of the table at the end of the league stage and will look to reach their second successive final. Pant has been a massive reason behind their success.


Edited by Sai Krishna
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Q. Who has been the better captain for DC over the last two IPL seasons?

Rishabh Pant

Shreyas Iyer

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