Winning Ways: The Most Successful Captains in IPL History

Among all the players, some stand tall to pave the way to victory.

Captain Virat Kohli in RCB kit during a cricket match
Ankitjit Singh

Written by: Ankitjit Singh

(Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Louis Hobbs

(Senior Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-04-02

6 minutes read

Indian Premier League (IPL) is arguably the toughest cricket league in the world. Because of that, the margin of error becomes much smaller in the league as a few mistakes here and there can change the entire complexion of the game within a few balls. For this, the role of captain becomes crucial, making learning a vital aspect of the game.

Especially in tournaments like the IPL, the captain needs to be on their toes as one mistake could cost them the match. Leading the team isn’t as easy as one thinks.

Apart from leading from the front, the captain needs to ensure that he carries the other 11 players along as well.  The IPL over the years has seen many stalwarts captaining the different franchises. While some have failed, few have brought laurels to for their teams. In this piece, we will take a look at the best captains in IPL history.

Best Captain in IPL History (minimum 80 matches) 

S.No

Player

Teams captained 

Matches

Won

Lost

W %

Titles won 

1

MS Dhoni 

Chennai Super King/ Rising Pune Supergiants 

226

133

91

59.37

5

2

Rohit Sharma

Mumbai Indians 

158

87

67

56.32

5

3

Gautam Gambhir

Delhi Capitals/ Kolkata Knight Riders 

129

71

57

55.42

2

4

David Warner 

Sunrisers Hyderabad/Delhi Capitals 

83

40

41

49.39

1

5

Virat Kohli 

Royal Challengers Bengaluru 

143

66

70

48.56

0

6

Adam Gilchrist

Deccan Chargers, Punjab Kings 

74

35

39

47.29

1

7.

Shane Warne 

Rajasthan Royals 

55

30

24

55.45

1

8.

Sachin Tendulkar 

Mumbai Indians 

51

30

21

58.82

0

9.

Virender Sehwag 

Delhi Capitals, Punjab Kings 

53

28

24

55.45

0

10.

Shreyas Iyer 

Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders 

55

27

26

50.90

0

1. MS Dhoni With 133 Wins as Captain

India legend MS Dhoni is the best captain in the IPL history. The keeper-batter captained Chennai Super Kings and now defunct Rising Super Giants in the league.

Touted as “Captain Cool,” he is seen as one of the best cricketing minds to ever play the game. The 42-year-old played 226 games as a leader and won 133 matches with a winning percentage of 59.37, with 91 losses under his belt.

Apart from the games that he won, the keeper-batter guided Chennai Super Kings to five title wins and made them the joint most successful team in the league. He has been one of the biggest reasons behind CSK being heavyweights in the tournament. Ahead of the IPL 2024, he relinquished the captaincy and passed on the baton to Ruturaj Gaikwad. 

2. Rohit Sharma With 87 Wins as Captain

India captain Rohit Sharma is the second-best captain in IPL history.

Till 2013, Mumbai Indians were struggling to get going in the tournament. But the decision to hand the captaincy to Rohit midway through IPL 2013 changed the fortunes of the team. 

Image Credits: PTI

Image Credits: PTI

The opening batter in his first season as captain took the team to glory and after that didn’t look back. He won four more titles in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020, making Mumbai Indians the most successful team in the tournament. In the 158 games that he captained in the IPL, he won 87 games at a win percentage of 57.32. Under his leadership, Mumbai lost just 67 games. Rohit Sharma also didn’t lose a single final as captain in the league. 

3. Gautam Gambhir With 71 Wins as Captain

Gautam Gambhir also did a terrific job in the IPL as captain for Delhi Capitals and the Kolkata Knight Riders. While his stint as a leader with Delhi wasn’t fruitful, he made sure he made Kolkata one of the best franchises in the league.

Under his captaincy, KKR looked like a force to be reckoned with and was on the same page with CSK and MI. Gambhir guided KKR to two title wins in 2012 and 2014 and made them the third most successful team in the IPL.

Overall, he played 129 games as a leader and won 71 games apart from losing 57 matches. He also had a win percentage of 55.42 in his career as captain. 

4. David Warner With 40 Wins as Captain

David Warner is rated as the best overseas batter to grace the Indian Premier League. Not only is he the leading run-getter in the league in terms of foreign batters, but he also did a terrific job as captain of the team for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Image Credit: Cric Today

Image Credit: Cric Today

The southpaw led the team to the title in IPL 2016 as under him stage Orange Army defeated Royal Challengers Bengaluru in the final. Warner was also the captain of Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2022 but didn’t have a great outing. Overall in 83 games as captain, the Australian batter won 40 games and lost 41 matches. His winning percentage of 55.42 puts him amongst the best captains in IPL history. 

5. Virat Kohli With 66 Wins as Captain

Although he didn’t win the IPL trophy as a captain, Virat Kohli ranks as the 5th best captain in IPL history. The Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter has been the main reason why the franchise is considered the powerhouse in the league.

Kohli as a captain was decent as under his leadership RCB registered many famous wins and took them to the final in the 2016 edition. He captained the franchise in 143 games and won 66 matches. The batter also faced 71 losses but had a win percentage of 48.50. 

FAQs

Who is the best captain in the IPL in terms of winning percentage?

Hardik Pandya is the best captain in the IPL in terms of winning percentage. Captaining Gujarat Titans in the two seasons, the all-rounder had a winning percentage of 73.33. He guided the team to an IPL win in 2022 and then took them to the final in 2023

Who is the King of IPL captains?

MS Dhoni is the king of IPL captains because of what he has done as a leader of Chennai Super Kings in the tournament. He has taken his team to playoffs in almost every season, barring 2020 and 2022. His 5 titles as a leader are a testimony to his work as a captain. Not only this, he also has led from the front and has scored over 5000 runs.

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Ankitjit Singh

Ankitjit Singh

I am just a guy in his early 20s whose dream was to play cricket but now believes his job is to serve cricket. I picked the cricket bat at the age of 3, pursued science as I grew up but eventually followed my heart to come into journalism and do the second-best thing in the world after playing the sport.

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