Ranking the top 5 captains in IPL history
Some of cricket's greatest players have captained in the IPL. We rank our top five skippers in the history of the competition.
5. David Warner
It may surprise some to see Warner on this list, but the Australian’s record as Sunrisers skipper is hard to argue with.
In his first season as captain in 2015, Warner finished the tournament with the Orange Cap after scoring 562 runs as Hyderabad narrowly missed out on the playoffs.
Sunrisers went on to win their maiden IPL title in the following season, and made the playoffs again in 2017 as Warner won a second Orange Cap.
Warner was replaced as skipper by Kane Williamson for 2018 and 2019, but regained the armband in 2020 and led Sunrisers to another playoff berth in the UAE.
He has captained the franchise on 62 occasions, winning 34 matches, with his winning record of 54.8 per cent putting him among the very best in the history of the IPL.
4. Shane Warne
Warne never really got a chance to captain Australia on the international stage, but he proved his leadership abilities with the Rajasthan Royals.
Signed as skipper for the inaugural tournament in 2008, Warne led the Royals, who had been written off as the weakest team in the competition, to the title.
Rajasthan never reached such heights again under Warne – they failed to make the playoffs over the next three seasons – but the achievement of winning the title in 2008 is impossible to overlook.
No one believed they would even make the playoffs yet Warne, who took 18 wickets across the tournament, led them to the trophy.
During his time as Royals skipper, Warne won 55.54 per cent of matches, which again justifies his place as an all-time great IPL captain.
3. Gautam Gambhir
One of just three captains to lead his side to more than one IPL title, Gambhir takes his rightful place at no. 3 on our list of greatest skippers.
The left-handed batsman started out with the Delhi Daredevils, playing there for three seasons – one as skipper – before signing for the Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.4m in 2011.
After a promising start in his first season as Kolkata made the playoffs, Gambhir led his side to their first IPL title in 2012 as they beat Chennai Super Kings in Chennai.
A dip in form followed in 2013 but Gambhir and the Knight Riders came charging back the next year, winning their second title in three years.
Gambhir took Kolkata to a further two playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017 before returning to Delhi for a final season before retirement.
2. MS Dhoni
Placing Dhoni at no. 2 may seem low to some.
The India legend has captained his beloved Chennai Super Kings to three IPL titles – in 2010, 2011 and 2018.
When the Super Kings were suspended for two seasons, Dhoni was appointed captain of Rising Pune Supergiant, taking them to the final in 2017.
He has been skipper for 188 games in the IPL – far more than anyone else in the competition’s history – winning 110 of those matches for a winning percentage of 58.8.
What is most remarkable about Dhoni’s legacy is his longevity – Dhoni has captained his side in every season of the IPL to date, maintaining an impressive record throughout.
1. Rohit Sharma
Sharma pips Dhoni to the top spot purely on weight of silverware.
Since he took charge of the Mumbai Indians in 2013 – succeeding the legendary Sachin Tendulkar – Sharma has led his side to five IPL titles.
Mumbai won the competition in his first season as skipper, before picking up further titles in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
During that time, Sharma has led by example, becoming one of the top run scorers in the competition. He is currently fifth on the all-time list with 5,230.
Dhoni may be seen as a more accomplished leader with a more successful career, but five IPL titles in eight seasons is simply ridiculous, and makes Sharma the greatest IPL captain in history.
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