Top 10 successful captains in IPL history

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IPL Best Captain. (Image Source: Twitter)

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to come back for its thirteenth edition from March 29.
The cash-rich tournament is renowned as the ‘best T20 league in the world’ due to the involvement of the star cricketers around the globe and for its high-octane competition.


Over the years, various captains have taken up the responsibility of taking their team through to the business end of the competition. Some have been able to achieve the expectations from the franchise, and some have failed miserably succumbing to pressure.

Here we look at the top 10 captains in the twelve-year-history of IPL:


10. David Warner

David Warner. (Image Source: Twitter)

David Warner’s breakthrough season of the IPL as a captain was back in 2016, where he guided the Sunrisers Hyderabad to their maiden title. Warner impressed with his captaincy skills, which transcended into his batting form in the season of 2016 – scoring the second-most runs after Virat Kohli’s 900+ tally.

Warner holds an imperious record of 26 wins in the 47 games he has captained his side, with a win percentage of 55.31. With question marks on Kane Williamson’s fitness, Warner is set to lead the Sunrisers again after the infamous ‘Sandpaper Gate.’

9. Steve Smith

Steve Smith. (Image Source: Twitter)

Another victim of Sandpaper Gate, who lost his captaincy in franchise cricket, Steve Smith, boasts a win% record of 67.85 in the tournament. Smith captained the Rising Pune Supergiants in the 2017 edition and took the side into the finals of the tournament.


With his 49 (51) in testing conditions, Smith almost took his side across the finishing line but fell heartbreakingly close, losing to Mumbai Indians by just one run.

Albeit, Smith only captained the side in 29 games in IPL cricket but ended up on the winning side on 18 occasions, with only nine losses to his name.

Yet again, Rajasthan Royals will be placing their bets on the former Australian skipper this season, with the powerful English contingent in the side as well as a formidable group of Indian youngsters at his disposal.


8. Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar. (Image Source: Twitter)

The maestro of batting, Sachin Tendulkar, managed to erase his forgetful captaincy record at the international level with his stint as a captain of Mumbai Indians.

In the 51 games as captain, Tendulkar managed to pull Mumbai Indians on the winning side on 30 occasions, with a win percentage of 58.82, before passing on the captaincy baton to Rohit Sharma.

7. Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag. (Image Source: Twitter)

Former captain of the Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, Virender Sehwag led his side on 53 occasions, out of which his team went on to win 28 times.


Although he could not take his side to the semi-finals, barring the memorable 2012 season, where they topped the group, Sehwag has a win% of 53.77.

6. Shane Warne

Shane Warne. (Image Source: Twitter)

The Wizard of Spin, Shane Warne, brought life to the inaugural edition of the IPL juggling through his dual role of captain and coach for the Rajasthan Royals. The Royals, termed as the underdogs amongst the other star-studded teams, managed to clinch the first IPL trophy in 2008, against all the odds.

In the 55 matches, Warne captained the Jaipur-based franchise, Royals managed to be on the winning side on 30 occasions. Royals are yet to win their second title since the inaugural edition of IPL.


5. Adam Gilchrist

Adam Gilchrist. (Image Source: Twitter)

Captaining the Deccan Chargers, Adam Gilchrist brought home the IPL title during the 2009 season held in South Africa. Gilchrist, who then captained the Kings XI Punjab later in his IPL career, holds a moderate win% of 47.29.

In the 74 matches he led his franchise, Gilchrist ended up on the winning side in 35 matches, and 39 losses to his name.

4. Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli. (Image Source: Twitter)

Virat Kohli is the only player to have featured for a single franchise throughout his IPL career. Handed over the captaincy at a relatively young age, Kohli has captained the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 110 games.

However, the RCB skipper has tasted defeat more often than not, with his tally of 49 wins and 55 loss, and win% of 47.16. Furthermore, RCB is the only team after KXIP and Delhi Capitals to not have won the IPL trophy ever, despite being part of all editions since its inception.

3. Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir. (Image Source: Twitter)

After playing for Delhi Capitals during the initial years, Gautam Gambhir found his mojo as a captain while leading the Kolkata Knight Riders. He was hugely respected by the owners as well.

The cricketing fraternity witnessed Gambhir’s captaincy prowesses when the Knight Riders won the 2012 and 2014 edition of the tournament.

Further, Gambhir holds a prestigious record of leading his side on 129 occasions and getting his side home on 71 of those games. Gambhir’s win% of 55.42, makes him one of the best leaders of IPL ever.

2. Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma. (Image Source: Twitter)

Rohit Sharma brought only laurels to Mumbai Indians after he was named as the captain of the side. The Wankhede-based franchise went on to clinch three titles under his captaincy – in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

After spending initial years under Deccan Chargers, Sharma took over as captain of MI from legendary Tendulkar. Rohit’s record speaks volumes of his leadership abilities. Many claimed his stint as MI captain acted as a catalyst to his success at the international level.

Hitman captained his team to victory 60 times out of the 104 games, with a staggering win% of 58.65. This makes him easily one of the best IPL captains of all time.

1. MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni. (Image Source: Twitter)

The Indian Premier League (IPL), arguably, has never seen a better captain than ‘Thala’ MS Dhoni. The talismanic Indian wicketkeeper-batsman has many International trophies to his name. But the seasoned campaigner also has three IPL trophies in his silverware cabinet.

MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings went on to win the editions of 2010, 2011, and the emotional 2018 campaign, where CSK came back after a two-year hiatus. MSD also led the Rising Pune Supergiants during CSK’s absence from the IPL.

With a prestigious 60% win record, MSD helped his side win on a whopping 104 occasions, out of the 174 games, he led the side. During the post-match presentations, Dhoni only appeared 69 times as a losing captain in those matches.

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About the Author:
Shubro is an ardent fan of sports, be it cricket, soccer, or tennis, he has an eye for all. Meticulous cricket writer by the day and an avid FIFA mobile player by the night, his life revolves around sports. The goal is to trott around the globe and to spread happiness through his goofy sense of humour. Write to him at mukherjeeshubro@gmail.com.