Suresh Raina : Gujarat Lions – One of the reasons why the IPL- 9 debutants find themselves at the top of the table is that Suresh Raina has led them from the front with his impressive captaincy. He has been able to make the new team click as a unit . Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja , Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch have been assigned roles and they seem to be gelling well. Raina himself is a livewire on the field and his energy and enthusiasm seems to have rubbed on well on the team. A team with young and old seem to be punching above their weight . The lions are truly roaring in IPL 9 with their brand of fearless cricket. What Raina needs now is big knock under his belt as he has been short of runs for while not only for his IPL side but for India. That would make his captaincy success all the more special
Zaheer Khan : Delhi Daredevils – When he was appointed skipper, the only fast bowler to be named skipper in IPL 9, there were doubts how Zak would fare. After a disastrous start against KKR, the choice was questioned in hush tones. But as the tournament went on Zaheer has managed to roll back the years. He is running in hard and hitting the deck and giving his side early breakthroughs. His field placings too have been sharp. And the results are all to see as DD is running for place in the top four with series of impressive wins. The Daredevils have a young side with not much experience but Zak has inspired them to perform well. Quinton De Kock, J P Duminy, Sanju Samson, Amit Mishra, Chris Morris, Carlos Braithwaite. DD looks a happy bunch. Mentored by former India skipper and batting legend Rahul Dravid, there is the Dravid stamp on the side. Dravid mentored the Rajasthan Royals and made it a side to watch out for , now he seems to be doing exactly that with the Delhi Daredevils side.
Gautam Gambhir : Kolkata Knight Riders – Sheer grit , determination have been the features of Gautam Gambhir’s career. The left- hander may be out of the Indian team but has not lost the competitive spirit and the desire to win. Gambhir has led the Kolkata Knight Riders to 2 IPL wins. And going by the way he is leading the side and his own brilliant form with the bat in company of Robin Uthappa, A third IPL title could be very much on the cards. Known for being outspoken, Gambhir recently said he is keen to see score runs and see KKR win and not thinking about a national team return. A return which is not going to be easy given his rather cold rapport with two skippers of national team – T20 and ODI skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Test skipper Virat Kohli. Gambhir is well aware that KKR is one of the most followed sides as it is co- owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and actress Juhi Chawla hence the expectations are high. KKR’s resurrection in IPL is largely due to Gambhir’s leadership. He took over over team that was in tatters and morale low under Sourav Ganguly and made it a title contender in every IPL season.
Rohit Sharma : Mumbai Indians – Replacing former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting midway through the IPL in 2013 season seems to have been a masterstroke by the Mumbai Indians team management , Rohit has not looked back since. He has led the way with his batting at the top playing some match winning knocks. His team has been slow starters and very often get into the groove when it matters most. That is the reason for their success. Rohit has managed to click the team as a unit and make them work as a cohesive side. A side which has many match winners besides him like Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan . What is impressive is that Rohit has managed to instill his own captaincy style in the side. Not easy when you have likes of Jonty Rhodes, Shane Bond , Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Singh and Ricky Ponting as head coach to advise and suggest how to go about things.
Virat Kohli : Royal Challengers Bangalore – Given their firepower with the likes of skipper Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, A B De Villiers, Shane Watson in their ranks, many believe that this is RCB’s best chance to lift the elusive IPL title . But that dream could still remain that dream as the star- studded outfit despite brilliances from Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers is struggling to find a place in the top four. While RCB has shone with the bat, their weak bowling has let them down on many a occasion . The absence of Mitchell Starc is been felt. Barring Shane Watson the lack of experience in bowling is showing. It is this bowling handicap that might come in their way of title dreams.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni – Rising Pune Supergiants : The other new debutant in IPL -9 seem to be struggling to find the right combination. Even the skipper as experienced as Mahendra Singh Dhoni who led Chennai Super Kings with great success is faltering with series of demoralising losses. Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming just seem unable to pick the right eleven. What is worse for the side is the injuries to key players like Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Faf Du Plessis. That has hit the team hard. Barring consistent opener Ajinkya Rahane the team’s batting has flopped, Dhoni too has not been able to deliver. His cameos have been short this has made the team very vulnerable. Dhoni termed Kevin Pietersen’s injury as blessing in disguise. But subsequent injuries to Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith means that the team is now terribly short of fire- power and is unlikely to make it to the top four.
David Warner : Sunrisers Hyderabad – The powerfully built Aussie opener has single- handedly kept his team in the fray for a top four spot. Warner has played some brilliant innings at the top and fashioned impressive wins. He has not shied away from hitting out even as wickets fell around him. And he has been devastating at the power-plays. Warner’s red hot form has more or less made up for failures of his inconsistent opening partner Shikhar Dhawan. With players Kane Williamson, Eoin Morgan, Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and young Bangladesh pace star Mustafizur Rahman in their ranks , the Sunrisers are a side that can beat any side on their day. With David Warner in marauding form, Surisers cannot be taken lightly.
Murali Vijay : Kings XI Punjab – The franchise co – owned by Bollywood actress Preity Zinta is having nightmarish IPL- 9 . The bottom placed team in the tournament just seem a ordinary outfit. Nothing has clicked for them at all. Poor batting, bowling, fielding. Frustrated they even replaced their skipper David Miller with opener Murali Vijay, who too barring the match against Gujarat Lions was struggling to get runs under his belt. Remains to be seen how Vijay rallies the side low on morale . Further The injury to batsman Shaun Marsh, and the rather disinterested looking Glenn Maxwell are not helping things either. Though they have managed to stun table toppers Gujarat Lions in their last match thanks to Axar patel’s fine hat-trick it is a gigantic task for Murali Vijay to revive their flagging campaign. The Franchise must be regretting of not retaining their skipper George Bailey , who led them to the IPL. The absence of an experianced skipper is hurting the team big time. And this is been seen clearly.