MS Dhoni, who became the flag bearer of the T20 revolution by leading India to glory in the inaugural World Cup in 2007, remains the most successful captain in IPL history. India’s captain was sold to Chennai Super Kings for US 1.5 million at the inaugural Players’ Auction in 2008. Since then, he has led his team to three finals and back-to-back championships. Dhoni is a player for all seasons. Whether it’s time to consolidate, boost the run rate or lead run chases, he seldom disappoints. He will look to steer CSK to a hat-trick of titles.
There’s never been a more economical spinner in the history of limited-overs cricket. The 33-year-old fared superbly for Delhi Daredevils in the first three seasons before taking over the reins of Royal Challengers Bangalore last season. He was a fitting replacement for the retired Anil Kumble. Vettori led Bangalore to the final of IPL 2011 and 2011 CLT20, and takes momentum into IPL-5 — both as a bowler and captain. An orthodox left-arm spinner, he can toss the ball up, bowl flat, use the crease and can even get the ball to skid after it pitches. He is arguably the most reliable bowler in death overs.
The Turbanator first led Mumbai in the inaugural edition of the IPL when regular skipper Sachin Tendulkar was injured. Under Harbhajan, Mumbai lost three games on the trot until a controversial incident involving S Sreesanth ruled the offie out of the tournament. However, Harbhajan consolidated his captaincy record by leading Mumbai to victory in last year’s Champions League Twenty20. Yesterday, Tendulkar handed over the responsibility of captaining Mumbai Indians in the forthcoming season to Harbhajan, who has played a key role in Mumbai’s resurgence since the third edition of the IPL.
Gambhir’s Test career might have taken a slight beating, but in the shorter formats Gambhir is still a force to reckon with and remains India's highest run-getter in T20 internationals. After playing for the Delhi Daredevils in the first three seasons of the IPL, Gambhir was bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders at the IPL Players' Auction 2011 for a record price of USD 2.4 million. With 378 runs from 15 innings last year, he led from the front to take KKR to their maiden semi-final berth. The stakes are high for Gambhir, who can once again entertain India leadership hopes with a solid performance for KKR
The batting legend has proved that a concoction of textbook shots with modern-day slogging can get the job done in Twenty20 cricket. Last year, he finished as Rajasthan Royals’ leading run-getter to again establish that class is permanent. The former Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper was signed by Rajasthan Royals during the IPL Players’ Auction 2011. He has taken on the role of captain-cum-coach to fill the void left by Shane Warne. In his debut season with Royals last year, Dravid scored 343 runs in 12 matches at an average of 31.18 and a strike-rate of 109.23.
With minimal footwork, and great hand-eye coordination, Virender Sehwag remains one of the most destructive batsmen in the world. The 33-year-old has won many games for India with his big-hitting. However, surprisingly, Sehwag is yet to perform as consistently in T20s. Sehwag was the “Icon” player for the Delhi Daredevils when the IPL was first held in 2008, and has remained with the franchise ever since. Sehwag remains one of the few batsmen to score a hundred in the competition. With calls for his axe from the national team growing louder, IPL-V presents Sehwag an opportunity to silence his critics.
It’s amazing that even four years after his international retirement, Adam Gilchrist remains one of the most dangerous batsmen in the T20 league. The southpaw was part of the Deccan Chargers line-up in the first three editions of the IPL, leading his team to glory in 2009. He has been with the Kings XI Punjab since 2011, and still is just as dangerous as he was in his heyday. Besides Bangalore's Chris Gayle, Gilchrist remains the only batsman to score two centuries in the four IPL seasons thus far. Gilchrist, 40, will once again lead Kings XI Punjab in the upcoming season.
Kumar Sangakkara’s known to possess the temperament to thrive in any situation. A consistent scorer in all formats, he turned out for Kings XI Punjab in the first three seasons before the Chargers bought him at the 2011 Auction. The Chargers, who won the 2009 IPL, fell apart last year when the teams were reshuffled with Sangakkara taking over the reins from Adam Gilchrist. They finished seventh. Sangakkara has another opportunity to prove his leadership credentials.
Often credited with being the architect of aggression in the modern Team India, Ganguly is the most successful Indian captain in history. ‘Dada’, as he is fondly called, was part of home franchise Kolkata Knight Riders for the first three seasons, before the Pune Warriors roped him in as their player-cum-mentor during the last IPL. Twenty20 batting has not been Ganguly’s strength. A career strike-rate of 108.97 and an average of 28.45 in the format reflect that. However, he will continue to lead the Pune Warriors in the absence of regular skipper Yuvraj Singh, who is on the road to recovery from cancer.
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Photos: Mallika Sherawat at a restaurant in Bandra
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