Captains have played a crucial role in most IPL triumphs. You cannot think of Rajasthan Royals' fairytale win in the inaugural edition without Shane Warne's inspirational leadership, which made match-winners out of such diverse characters as Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja and Swapnil Asnodhkar.
Adam Gilchrist led from the front when the Deccan Chargers went from bottom-scrapers in IPL 1 to champions in IPL 2. And MS Dhoni was the man with the Midas touch when the Chennai Super Kings won IPL 3 and followed it up with the Champions League T20 trophy.Five men have led the four teams that are in the playoffs of IPL 4. With the number of teams increased to 10 from eight, finishing in the top four was tougher this time. The Royal Challengers, Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders have met and overcome that challenge. And a lot of credit for that must go to the captains.
Gautam Gambhir had to step into the shoes of Sourav Ganguly who had been dumped by the Knight Riders as they overhauled the side that had failed to make it to the last four in three attempts. However, Gambhir stuck to his job and has taken the side to the playoffs, a first for the Knight Riders. Gambhir has avoided controversies, managed international stars like Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee and Mark Boucher and inspired young Indian talent like Manoj Tiwary and Iqbal Abdullah.
Have and have not
It is difficult to think of Sachin Tendulkar as a "have not", but he has rarely been a successful captain. For him, the IPL is an opportunity to prove his credentials. He is yet to win the title, but his team is getting closer every year.
At the other end of the spectrum is MS Dhoni who has been successful regardless of the format of cricket he has captained in.
Young and old
The Royal Challengers are led by two men at opposite ends of their careers. Vettori has quit as New Zealand captain because he's tired after doing the job for years. Yet in IPL, he is ready to take up the challenge. Kohli once led India to under-19 World Cup triumph and also captains Delhi in domestic cricket. He is a future India captain in the eyes of many. The Royal Challengers players have adapted well to the leadership of both.