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CHENNAI: An Indian captain with experience and brand value is a dream combo for every IPL franchisee. Three teams – Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians – have already retained their Indian captains MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma for the next season while Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have gone with their Aussie captains Steve Smith and David Warner. Now three franchises – Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab – will be looking to pick up their respective captains for the next season from the auctions in Bengaluru.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Gambhir riddle
TOI understands there are five serious captaincy contenders – Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin. Manish Pandey, who led India ‘A’ recently, is also being discussed in the IPL circles as a candidate.
While KKR have the option of using the Right to Match card to get either Gambhir or Pandey on board, Daredevils may eye Ashwin as their captaincy candidate. In case KKR don’t pick Gambhir, the veteran who led the Kolkata franchisee for seven seasons, may return to Delhi, where he played the first three editions.
Punjab, meanwhile, may opt for one of their local stars Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. Recently Punjab team director Virender Sehwag hinted that the franchisee would like to get both Yuvraj and Harbhajan from the auctions. That leaves India vice-captain Rahane, who has done consistently well in the IPL. He could be a good captaincy option for any one of these teams, provided Rajasthan Royals don’t use the RTM to buy him back.
Will returning CSK build from scratch?
Former CSK player and an IPL veteran S Badrinath is not sure how hard KKR will go for Gambhir. “I’m sure that KKR will bid for Gambhir but how hard they will go is the question. If his price goes beyond a certain point, they may not go too far. Gambhir has not been retained in the first place, so then there is no logic in KKR going all out for him in the auction. I guess it would depend more on auction price,” Badrinath said.
Former SRH mentor Kris Srikkanth feels Rahane is a “captaincy contender”. “Rahane is a respected cricketer at the top level and has experience. He has the calmness around him. It was evident in the manner in which he led India in the Dharamshala Test against Australia last year,” added Srikkanth.
Meanwhile Ashwin has led Tamil Nadu successfully and is considered an “unorthodox and astute thinker” of the game. Former India skipper Anil Kumble recently stated that Ashwin was certainly a “captaincy material” and Badrinath too echoed the former leggie.
“Ashwin has always been innovative and unorthodox in his approach. He is the lead spinner, can chip in with the bat and always has a sound strategy in place. He knows domestic cricket and follows various leagues. He will certainly be in contention as a leader,” added Badrinath.
With a base price of Rs 1 crore, Pandey is a dark horse in the race. Pandey is a good T20 cricketer, has a long future ahead of him and has led India ‘A’.