DC skipper Rishabh Pant (L) and RR captain Sanju Samson.
Sanjay Manjrekar has called attention to the concept of “specialist captains” who can get the best out of ordinary teams in the IPL. He cited the example of the two IPL 2021 finalists who are led by two mostly out-of-form but ‘seasoned’ captains – MS Dhoni and Eoin Morgan.
Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) defeated Rishabh Pant‘s Delhi Capitals (DC) by three wickets in Qualifier 2 on Wednesday. Chasing 136 for victory, KKR collapsed in the middle overs, but found a star in Rahul Tripathi. The no.3 batter hit a six on the penultimate ball of the match to get his team over the line.
In a chat with ESPNcricinfo, Sanjay Manjrekar was asked whether DC should stick with Pant as their skipper for IPL 2022. The former Indian batter replied in the negative, saying it was beyond him how youngsters like Pant, Sheyas Iyer and Sanju Samson were elected captains of IPL teams. He said:
“The two teams that have reached the finals have been led by two seasoned captains – Morgan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I have come to this belief at the moment based on whatever I have seen in the IPL… I just wonder when you are looking at T20 specialist bowlers and batters and all-rounders, I think it’s time for us to also start looking for T20 specialist captains, you know, great T20 captains. It’s beyond me how T20 captaincy is given to a young Rishabh Pant, [he’s] still young cricket wise, young Shreyas Iyer or Sanju Samson.”
Sanjay Manjrekar added that instead of youngsters, IPL teams deserve skippers like MS Dhoni who can make a difference just with their acuity. He asserted:
“I just don’t understand the basis of that call because T20 captaincy is tough, it has a great impact… so I believe you’ve got to have brilliant T20 captains captaining sides and then even an ordinary side, I mean, look at CSK they have major weaknesses there but Dhoni has been able to get the best out of his playing XI. And those are the kind of captains IPL teams deserve, captains who are brilliant and just by their leadership and tactics will make a difference.”
Pant stood for Iyer as DC’s captain in the first half of IPL 2021 owing to the latter’s unavailability due to injury. But even after Iyer’s return before the UAE leg, the franchise stuck with the with the young wicketkeeper-batsman as skipper. In the end, Pant’s debut stint was one of promise as DC spent a lot of time at the top of the points table. But it was also a tale of unfulfilled potential as Delhi failed to go all the way.
Gautam Gambhir picks two decisions that cost DC an IPL 2021 final berth
Further, in the same interaction, Gautam Gambhir pointed out a couple of decisions that will ‘haunt’ DC for a very long time.
He said not bowling Kagiso Rabada in the final over against Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 and then playing Marcus Stoinis ahead of Steve Smith against KKR effectively cost them a place in the final.
“Two decisions that’ll go onto haunt them [DC] for a very long time are not bowling Rabada [the last over] in the last game [against CSK] and picking Stoinis ahead of Steve Smith just purely as a batter. I actually thought Stoinis would be their sixth bowler but if they had picked him as a pure batter and pushed him at No. 3 where he hasn’t played enough cricket, I think that was worse than a blunder.”
DC’s defeat has given way to a repeat of the 2012 IPL final. KKR and CSK will clash for the silverware on Friday, starting at 7:30 PM IST in Dubai.