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Who is the Best Captain in IPL history?

The best captain in IPL history is Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni. He might not have the most IPL titles, but the former Indian skipper enjoys a superior win percentage and has taken CSK to the most IPL finals.

From Gautam Gambhir to Rohit Sharma, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has featured some of the best T20 cricket captains, whose ability to lead with extreme prejudice consistently is a huge reason why IPL is the most competitive T20 league today. However, the winning percentage alone can’t determine the best captain in IPL.

While Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma jointly holds the record for winning most IPL titles along with MS Dhoni, the team’s enormous success is widely credited to their scouting team for unearthing talents like Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.

Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni has a strong claim as well. Not only has he led the Chennai team to five titles, but he has also reached 12 playoffs in 14 seasons. Under Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy, Kolkata Knight Riders saw two title wins in three seasons with a team largely comprising of has-beens, as the former Delhi Daredevils opener has proven his captaincy acumen as well.

These three are considered among the most successful IPL captains.

Most successful captains in IPL (minimum 100 matches)

Player (Teams)



Win percentage

MS Dhoni (CSK, RPS)




Rohit Sharma Sharma (MI)




Virat Kohli (RCB)




Gautam Gambhir (DD, KKR)




David Warner (DC, DD, SRH)




AC Gilchrist (Deecan Chargers, KXIP)




SS Iyer (DC, DD, KKR)




Shane Warne (RR)




Virender Sehwag (DD, KXIP)




KL Rahul (PBKS, LSG)




Rohit Sharma (Mumbai Indians) – win rate 56.32%

A former Deccan Chargers all-rounder and current Mumbai Indians opener, Rohit Sharma is the second-most successful captain in IPL in terms of win percentage. He has led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles with 79 wins in 144 matches so far. In the upcoming IPL, however, Rohit will be a part of the Mumbai Indians only as a batsman, as he has been replaced as a captain by Hardik Pandya. 

Also Read: Which Fielder has Taken Most Catches in the IPL?

MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings) – win rate 59.37%

MS Dhoni is the most popular captain in IPL history. He has captained 226 matches in IPL with 133 wins. In IPL 2023, Dhoni equaled Rohit Sharma’s record for most titles as IPL captain. Widely considered the more successful captain in IPL, Dhoni has captained Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiants. He hasn’t tied a single match and has won the IPL five times.

Gautam Gambhir (Kolkata Knight Riders) – win rate 55.42 %

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir, who moved from Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) to replace Sourav Ganguly as their IPL captain, has captained 129 matches with 71 wins and two titles to his name. The Kolkata Knight Riders team has tied just one game under his guidance.

IPL captain with most runs

MS Dhoni is not just the most successful captain in the IPL, but also the captain with the most number of runs. Although he has scored lesser runs than the likes of David Warner, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, it can be noted that none of these three cricketers will be seen in the role of a captain in IPL 2024. Dhoni, thus, is the IPL captain with most runs, having scored 5082 runs in 250 matches. 

Most successful overseas IPL captain

Only three overseas players have managed to lift the IPL title in the last 13 years – Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, and David Warner.

Adam Gilchrist (2009)

The former Australian southpaw has captained now-defunct IPL teams Deccan Chargers (now Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings). Gilchrist has 35 wins in 74 matches, with his best season being the 2009 edition with Deccan Chargers, where he lifted the trophy.

Shane Warne (2008)

Shane Warne had led Rajasthan Royals to their only IPL title as they had won the first-ever IPL edition in 2008. Warne led Rajasthan Royals for three seasons, winning 30 of the 55 matches. Warne’s compatriot has also captained Rajasthan Royals after him, but with little success.

David Warner (2016)

One of the most prolific batsmen in IPL, David Warner has tallied 5447 runs in 148 matches as the captain. He captained Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad in 69 matches and won 53 of them, with his title in 2016 with the Orange army. After Deccan Chargers became defunct in 2012, Surnisers Hyderabad was the new team in IPL a year later.

Also Read: Which Batsman Tops the List for Most Centuries in IPL?

Other successful captains in IPL

While there have been only six title-winning captains in IPL history, the league has seen numerous others who showed glimpses of brilliance in the leadership role but couldn’t get a longer rope.

Among the most popular few would be Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina, who led in short bursts but with great efficiency. Sachin Tendulkar captained Mumbai in 51 matches and won 30 of them, while Raina had led both CSK and Gujarat Lions (now a defunct IPL side like Rising Pune Supergiants) a total of 34 times and won 14 of those.

Keiron Pollard and Shaun Pollock also deserve a passing mention. The West Indian had captained Mumbai Indians for five matches and saw four wins, while the South African led in four matches and managed three wins.

IPL captains with promising potential

IPL’s current stars also have some promising captaincy candidates. Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Shreyas Iyer had made a bright start to his captaincy in the Delhi Capitals team (53.65% wins) in 2018 when he took over the reins from Gambhir. Rishabh Pant has also been seen doing justice (55.05% wins) to the role since taking over the Capitals’ captaincy from Iyer/ Young Sanju Samson also made a decent start as an IPL captain of Rajasthan Royals.

KL Rahul (50.98% wins) has also made a name for himself as a good captain in the IPL. The Punjab franchise is one of the few teams to have never won IPL despite having eccentric captains like Gilchrist, Virender Sehwag, George Bailey, and more. However, KL Rahul showed promise leading the rechristened Punjab Kings side, and also led his new franchise Lucknow Super Giants to the playoffs last year. 

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A literature student and ardent sports lover, who was blown away by the fact that SEO helps you achieve perfection in art. Obsessed with SEO, my write-ups are more analytical yet elementary.


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