Managing international and domestic players under one roof, meeting the demands of owners, exhausting schedules, ... Captaining an Indian Premier League side is a high-pressure job. While there are skippers who thrive under pressure, there are some who can't. There are inspirational leaders like MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Shane Warner and David Warner who have achieved great heights with their respective franchises, but there are also a few who have failed miserably. Make no mistake, they might be international stars but leading an IPL team is a different beast altogether.
India's ace Test offspinner R Ashwin made his IPL captaincy debut on this day in 2018 for Kings XI Punjab. The Punjab-based franchise acquired the services of Ashwin in the 2018 mega-auction and straightaway appointed him as the captain. The experiment didn't quite work as Punjab failed to make it to the playoffs on both occasions. Here, we look at five such former captains, in no specific order, who failed to inspire their respective teams and struggled heavily to get the job done.
R Ashwin (Kings XI Punjab)
Matches 28 | Won 12 | Lost 16
Ashwin was handed over the captaincy when he shifted his base to Punjab in 2018. Ashwin is a street-smart offspinner and everyone was excited to see how he would go about his business as a captain. The start was fantastic for Ashwin and Punjab as they won five of their first six games and were placed at the top of the table in the middle of the league stages. It looked like Punjab would become the first team to qualify for the playoffs and all they needed was a couple of wins. However, that didn't happen. They only managed to win one of their last eight games and finished as the second-worst performing side. 2019 was no different either as they won four of their first six games before faltering again and finishing sixth. Acknowledged as one of the keen readers of the game, Ashwin was scrutinised for his captaincy as he made a few baffling calls. As a player, Ashwin did a decent job but couldn't lift the team up. Ahead of the 2020 auction, Ashwin was traded to Delhi Capitals.
Kumar Sangakkara (Kings XI Punjab, Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Matches 47 | Won 15 | Lost 30 | Tied 2
The wicketkeeper-batsman might have led Sri Lanka to a World Cup final but Sangakkara did not prove to be a successful captain in IPL. Sangakkara's win percentage of 31.91 is the worst amongst skippers who have led in a minimum of 25 games. It's not easy for foreign captains to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the local players and Sangakkara faced similar difficulties. He led Punjab in 2010, managing seven wins and as many losses as the franchise just failed to qualify for the playoffs. In 2011 and 2012, he captained Deccan Chargers but not once could lead them to the playoffs. He also led Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 but once again failed to impress and was replaced by Cameron White mid-way through the tournament. He averaged just 23 with the bat as captain, compared to 32.6 in the matches he didn't captain. Leadership surely took a toll on him.
Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata Knight Riders, Pune Warriors India)
Matches 42 | Won 17 | Lost 25
You wouldn't expect one of India's greatest captains to be on this list but Ganguly simply couldn't replicate his international success in IPL. He led Kolkata Knight Riders and Pune Warriors in the franchise-based league but couldn't come up with favourable results, winning only 17 out of 42 games that he captained. He led Kolkata in the inaugural edition but was dropped as captain because of differences with the management and poor outings. Brendon McCullum led Kolkata in 2009 before Ganguly once again returned as captain in 2011 but couldn't change the fate of the franchise. He went unsold in the 2011 edition but found himself a team in the late stage of the tournament as Pune Warriors added him to their squad. He led them in the next season but Pune could only win four out of their 16 games that season, and that was the end of Ganguly's IPL career.
Mahela Jayawardene (Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Delhi Daredevils)
Matches 30 | Won 10 | Lost 19 | Tied 1
Just like his countryman and best friend Sangakkara, Jayawardene too did not prove to be a successful captain in the IPL. The 2006 ICC Captain of the year, Jayawardene was appointed as the skipper of the now-defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala. He himself struggled with the bat as the franchise finished third-last on the points table, winning six of their eight matches. He then led Delhi in 2013 and the franchise just managed to win three of their 14 encounters. Jayawardene was defensive with his approach and couldn't inspire Delhi, a team that had players like Warner, Andre Russell, Ashish Nehra, Virender Sehwag and Morne Morkel.
Kevin Pietersen (Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils)
Matches 17 | Won 3 | Lost 14
The former England batsman was the most expensive buy in the 2009 auction as RCB bought him for a whopping $1.55 million. They gave him the captaincy but Pietersen failed to live up to expectations. Bangalore only managed to win two out of six encounters under his leadership and Pietersen was removed from the captaincy and was replaced by Anil Kumble who eventually led them to the finals. He then captained Delhi in 2014 and all they could win was two games out of 14. He has the worst record for an IPL skipper who has captained in a minimum of 10 games.
Other captains who failed to impress
Shane Watson - Matches 24 | Won 8 | Lost 13 | Tied 2 | NR 1
Brendon McCullum - Matches 14 | Won 3 | Lost 10 | Tied 1
Ricky Ponting - Matches 6 | Won 3 | Lost 3