Ordinarily, it is a batsman who is favoured as the team’s captain. Most of a captain’s decisions occur while in the park when the unit is bowling. Since a batsman will not have a primary skill to concentrate on through this period, he will be unfettered in the mind to make the choices. However, a bowler will have to focus on his skillset while also reflecting on the other decisions. Hence, bowlers are normally not given captaincy. Nevertheless, in IPL, we have seen franchises going against the trend. In this article, we look at five Indian bowlers who have captained an IPL franchise.
1) Harbhajan Singh – Mumbai Indians (IPL 2008 & 2012)
IPL Captaincy Record: Matches – 20 || Wins – 10 || Losses – 10
Not many remember, but it was actually Harbhajan Singh who is the first captain of Mumbai Indians, the most successful franchise in the competition. Sachin Tendulkar was injured, and hence, Bhajji had to take responsibility in IPL 2008. However, under him, the squad lost their first four games by a huge margin and languished at the bottom of the table.
Later, just before IPL 2012 was about to start, Sachin Tendulkar gave the captaincy of MI to Harbhajan. He was at the helm of the franchise for this season. While he has a fifty per cent win record as a captain, Bhajji also boasts of a trophy. Leading a young squad in Champions League T20 in 2011, the Punjab spinner won the championship.
2) Anil Kumble – Royal Challengers Bangalore (IPL 2009 & 2010)
IPL Captaincy Record: Matches – 26 || Wins – 15 || Losses – 11
While Rahul Dravid captained RCB in IPL 2008, Kevin Pietersen was given the task in IPL 2009. However, he had to leave the tournament due to an international commitment, and former India skipper Anil Kumble stepped in.
The leg-spinner was one of the famous Indian bowlers who have captained an IPL franchise. While he took RCB to the finals in IPL 2009, he helped them to the semis in IPL 2010. In IPL 2009, despite ending on the losing side, Kumble was the Man of the Match in the final. He is the only player with this distinction in the tournament’s history.
3) Zaheer Khan – Delhi Capitals (IPL 2016 & 2017)
IPL Captaincy Record: Matches – 23 || Wins – 10 || Losses – 23
The Delhi outfit was having a problem with leadership at that time. It was a young team and JP Duminy was at the helm. However, ahead of the IPL 2016 campaign, the then coach Rahul Dravid decided that Zaheer Khan would take over the captaincy duties.
A player who had such a terrific impact as an India cricketer, Zaheer was actually decent for the Delhi franchise as a captain. In 2016, if not for an unfortunate loss, the team could have made it to the playoffs. Zaheer, in these two seasons as the captain, also collected 20 wickets.
4) Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Sunrisers Hyderbad (IPL 2019)
IPL Captaincy Record: Matches – 6 || Wins – 2|| Losses – 4
David Warner had missed IPL 2018 due to the sand-paper gate, and Kane Williamson became the captain of SRH. Although Warner returned in IPL 2019, Kane was held on with the captaincy duties. However, in 2019, Kane missed six games, and without other options in the squad, SRH gave Bhuvneshwar Kumar the captaincy armband. Hence, he is also one of the Indian bowlers who have captained an IPL franchise.
However, it was not a memorable stint as he could lead SRH to just two wins in four encounters. After that phase, Bhuvi was never given the role of the captain of the franchise.
5) Ravichandran Ashwin – Punjab Kings (IPL 2018 & 2019)
IPL Captaincy Record: Matches – 28 || Wins – 12 || Losses – 16
IPL 2018 mega auction was slightly confusing for Punjab Kings. They had hired a good team, but there were doubts as to who would captain the team. A franchise that has been too volatile with its captaincy changes, eventually they decided of giving experienced captain Ravichandran Ashwin the duty.
Known to be a straightforward man with some unorthodox tactics, Ashwin’s captaincy added flavour to the tournament. Some of his unforgettable decisions include moving himself up the batting order and of course, the mankading of Jos Buttler. With regards to the performance, he actually helped Punjab do well in the first half of both campaigns but eventually failed to make it to the playoffs. Before IPL 2020, he was traded to Delhi Capitals, where he is still playing.