5 Youngest Captains in Indian T20 League History
Delhi appointed Rishabh Pant as their new captain for the upcoming season of the Indian T20 League. Shreyas Iyer, the franchise’s regular captain, was ruled out of the 2021 edition due to a left shoulder injury during the first match of the ODI series against England.
This will be the first captaincy stint for Pant, who was picked by Delhi in the 2016 auction of the league, at the biggest stage. So with the young wicketkeeper batsman becoming captain, let us take a look at the cricketers who took on the captaincy role in this demanding league at a very young age.
1. Virat Kohli (22 years and 187 days)
About a decade back, we would have simply laughed at the idea of someone taking forward the legacy of Sachin Tendulkar. However, Virat Kohli has done the impossible with his batting capabilities. Not only is he breaking Sachin’s records, but he is also doing it easily. He has already scored close to 23000 international runs.
Besides his batting skills, his leadership qualities have been instrumental in taking the country's cricket to a new level. He captained India to the title in the ICC U-19 World Cup 2008. Always seen as captaincy material, it hardly came as a surprise when Bangalore wanted him to take over the role as early as 2011. When Daniel Vettori got an injury midway into the 2011 edition, Kohli led the side for 3 games, winning 2 of them.
Kohli has been the permanent captain of the side since 2013. Overall he has captained Bangalore in 125 matches (won 55, lost 63), which includes a runners-up finish in the 2016 edition.
2. Steve Smith (22 years and 344 days)
The “Bradmanesque” cricketer Steve Smith is on a mission to establish his batting legacy. He has always been in the headlines for his unique style and tremendous run-scoring abilities. He has a current Test average of 61, which speaks volumes of his current batting dominance at the world stage.
He came into the Australian team as a spinner but later on started working on his batting skills. The results are there to see for everyone. Steve Smith was appointed captain of the now-defunct Pune during the 2012 edition. He replaced Sourav Ganguly after 6 consecutive losses suffered by the team.
Later Steve Smith had captaincy stints in Rajasthan, winning 15 of the 27 matches he captained and now-defunct Pune Supergiant, who he guided to the final in the 2017 edition. Overall he has captained in 44 matches (won 25, lost 18) in the league.
3. Suresh Raina (23 years and 112 days)
Who can forget the cameo played by Suresh Raina in the quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup? Raina has played over 300 international games and is the first Indian to score a century in each format of the game.
He has been a giant in the Indian T20 League, scoring more than 5300 runs across 12 editions. He became captain of Chennai during the 2010 edition in the absence of MS Dhoni, who was nursing an elbow injury. Raina led the Yellow Army in 3 matches, losing 2 of them.
Suresh Raina has also captained now-defunct Gujarat for 2 seasons, in 2016 and 2017. Overall he has captained in 35 matches (won 14, lost 20) in the league.
4. Shreyas Iyer (23 years and 141 days)
Shreyas Iyer is an attacking batsman capable of hitting classical shots with great power. Since his debut in 2013, he has been at the top of the batting charts in domestic cricket.
He was signed in the 2015 auction by Delhi for 2.6 crores and became the highest-earning uncapped player in the tournament. Shreyas Iyer was appointed as Delhi's skipper in the middle of the 2018 season after Gautam Gambhir left the role due to bad results. On his captaincy debut, he smashed an unbeaten match-winning knock of 93 off just 40 deliveries with 10 sixes.
He has led Delhi in their last couple of seasons, reaching the playoffs in 2019 and the final in the 2020 edition. He has surely brought a change in the franchise’s dynamics in the last two seasons. Overall Iyer has captained Delhi in 41 matches (won 23, lost 18) in the league.
5. Rishabh Pant (will be 23 years and 188 days on his captaincy debut)
Continuing the vision of a young team and a vibrant captain, Rishabh Pant will become the fifth-youngest captain in the Indian T20 League when he takes the field for Delhi on 10th April against Chennai. He replaces regular captain Shreyas Iyer, who will miss the 2021 season due to a left shoulder injury.
He has been in great form in recent months, scoring runs consistently in every format. This will add a new dimension to his growth as a cricketer. He will captain a side including experienced players like Rahane, Dhawan, Steve Smith, and Ashwin. How he handles the pressure of captaincy and the role of wicketkeeper-batsman, only time will tell.
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