IPL 2022, Captaincy Report Card, Part I: Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson both led their teams to TATA IPL 2022 Finals.
There is a famous saying, “A captain is as good as his team while a team is as good as its captain”. We are just a final encounter away from the end of a prolific season of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.
Let’s look at how captains have performed for their side and what impact their presence has made on the team.
In part I, we dissect the successful captains this season while in the concluding part which will follow this article, we will look at captains who botched it up big time for their respective franchises this season.
Gujarat Titans - Hardik Pandya (Rating - 9/10)
Before the start of the season, who would have thought Gujarat will become the first team to qualify for the IPL 2022 final. The way Hardik Pandya has led the new franchise is simply remarkable.
After the end of the league stage, Gujarat finished top of the points table with 10 wins in 14 matches. Everybody thought Shubman Gill is only good enough in longer formats but he trusted his ability and it paid off. So far, Gill has amassed 438 runs with a decent average of 31.29 and a strike rate of 136.02.
Moreover, the other opener Wriddhiman Saha was also backed by Pandya and his team. Much like Shubman, Saha also delivered with great knocks of 68, 55 and 67* against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), respectively.
David Miller is the most recent example of trusting players and giving them an extended run who hit three consecutive sixes in the final over of Qualifier 1, to book the ticket for IPL 2022 final for Gujarat.
Hardik Pandya has not only delivered with his captaincy but with the bat as well. The GT skipper has smashed 453 runs in the season so far, with an average of 45.30 including many game-changing knocks in crunch situations. His positive body language is quite visible in his team performance.
The only small fault you can figure out is the way he is using Rashid Khan. Gujarat haven’t used Rashid as a wicket-taking option. He is mainly coming to bowl in the middle overs where teams are not going after him for runs but rather playing him defensively, ensuring not to give him a wicket.
Rajasthan Royals - Sanju Samson (Rating - 8.5/10)
What a dream run Rajasthan Royals are having in IPL 2022. Yes, they lost the first qualifier against Gujarat Titans (GT) but punched the ticket for the final with a comprehensive win against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Qualifier 2. You talk about Orange Cap holder Jos Buttler (824 runs) but on a few occasions it was seen how Buttler was struggling early on but it was Royals’ skipper Sanju Samson who took the pressure off from Buttler by scoring quickfire runs from the other end. In Qualifier 1 against GT as well, Buttler had got a slow start but it was Sanju’s innings of 47 off 26, that provided momentum to RR. The right-handed batter has also scored 444 runs in this season, which is the second-highest for RR after Buttler.
Sanju Samson has been quite impressive with his tactics, whether promoting Ravichandran Ashwin in the batting order and retiring him according to a situation, or using Yuzvendra Chahal who also is the joint-highest wicket-taker this season, with 26 wickets to his account.
Prasidh Krishna conceded three sixes in the penultimate over against GT which cost RR the game. Despite that, Samson trusted the tall fast bowler to deliver and Krishna didn’t disappoint his skipper, chipping in with three crucial wickets against RCB in the second qualifier.
Despite consistently going for runs, Obed McCoy was also backed in the crucial qualifier. McCoy stood tall and scalped three wickets in Qualifier 2 by just conceding 23 runs and taking three wickets.
The only criticism which may hold against Sanju and his side can be around playing Riyan Parag in the XI in every game despite a few other talented youngsters warming the bench.
RCB - Faf du Plessis (Rating - 7/10)
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) lost Qualifier 2 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) and their dream of winning a title got shattered yet again.
RCB were a rejuvenated side this year, with the appointment of a new skipper in the form of Faf du Plessis who did a decent enough job for the franchise. He led his side from the front with 468 runs under his belt. Dinesh Karthik emerged as a proper finisher and was allotted a dedicated slot and given clarity about his position.
Furthermore, the way Faf du Plessis utilized Harshal Patel in death overs has been a highlight of his captaincy. After IPL 2016, this was the first occasion RCB were playing a qualifier and credit should be given to Faf for the way he handled the squad.
Though, it would have been a lot better opening with Virat Kohli in the initial phase, as you want to give the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Karthik more balls to get set. In addition, despite leaking runs early on, Du Plessis over-bowled Mohammed Siraj who eventually let down his side by leaking the runs at an economy of 10.08.
Lucknow Super Giants - KL Rahul (Rating 7/10)
KL Rahul has been heavily criticized in the past for his predefined and bookish captaincy, but this season he has proved the critics wrong to a significant extent.
Rahul is the second-highest run-getter in IPL 2022, with 616 runs under his belt. However, his side was eliminated by RCB in the eliminator.
Talking about Rahul’s captaincy, one is forced to admire certain things - giving an extended run to a player like Ayush Badoni, accommodating both Krunal Pandya and Deepak Hooda in the XI despite their stressed relationship playing for Baroda in the domestic circuit, trusting Mohsin Khan’s pace (14 wickets in the season) and backing him in most of the games.
Could he have backed a hitter like Ewin Lewis? The West Indies player was dropped from the team in the middle of the season despite scoring 55* against Chennai Super Kings (CSK). A couple of single-digit scores after that cost him a place in the playing XI.
Moreover, Rahul didn’t use Ravi Bishnoi to a great extent as he used to do in earlier seasons with Punjab. Bishnoi scalped 13 wickets in 14 matches he played but was very expensive with his economy (8.44).