India is all geared up to witness the biggest cricketing fest of the year, the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be back with a bang in April this year. This edition will mark the return of two of suspended IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings who were out of the competition for two years after allegations of match-fixing illegal betting scandal. The IPL 2018 player auction saw several players swap squads, while most of the franchises managed to retain a core of players at their disposal, a lot of new players will be in action for different teams this season. After the auction, a number of teams announced their captains but not of all of them have still confirmed their leaders.

In a bid to give fans a first-ever kind of experience and engage them widely with the teams, IPL outfits Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Rajasthan Royals (RR) have decided to announce their captains on national television. The two teams have collaborated with Star Sports and will announce their captains live for the first time in IPL’s history. Rajasthan Royals will name their captain on Saturday while Kolkata Knight Riders will announce their captain on March 4. Rajasthan are making a come-back into the competition and have roped in their former captain Steve Smith, who is likely to lead the team but team’s mentor Shane Warne believes that the team has got a lot of natural leaders to pick from.

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“A captain is instrumental to create a culture within the team. We indeed have some great choices — the likes of Ben Stokes, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith who bring leadership values with them. Jos Buttler too has capabilities to lead a team,” Warne was quoted as saying in a team statement by the Royals. Now that he has left the fray open for any senior player to take the mantle, it will be interesting to see who the team management has picked for the captainship role. Warne himself won the inaugural edition of the competition as a captain of the Rajasthan Royals.
The Rajasthan outfit made some shrewd buys in the recently concluded auctions, where they roped in two of the most expensive buys of the auction in form of English all-rounder Ben Stokes (12.5 crore) and Indian pacer Jaydev Unadkat who was bought for Rs 11.5 crore. They also have the likes of Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, D’Arcy Short and Sanju Samson at their disposal.

Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders, who let go of former captain Gautam Gambhir and are yet to decide on their next captain, have a difficult decision to make. There are two names which have surfaced from the KKR dugout as potential captains, Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn. Both the players possess immense experience and are strong contenders for the leadership roles. The KKR have also decided to unveil their captain on television and will follow suit Rajasthan Royals.

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Recently former KKR captain Sourav Ganguly gave his opinion on who should lead KKR in the upcoming IPL in Gambhir’s absence and reckoned that the team had limited option and will have to think before giving the role to a foreign player. “In the current team, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik are captaincy material. Whether they will opt for Chris Lynn is a question because not many teams appoint a foreign captain. However, the franchise must give the new captain stability like how they gave to Gautam Gambhir,” Ganguly said insisting that KKR will have to give the new captain the same stability as Gambhir. The Delhi southpaw led KKR in six seasons, lifting the title twice. He was the most successful captain for the franchise and his elimination in the auction was a shock for the KKR fans.
IPL 2018 will square off from April 7 and will end on May 27. The 51-day long competition will have total 60 games played across India. The opener will be played at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians.

ALSO READ: IPL 2018, Kolkata Knight Riders squad analysis: Lacklustre KKR thin with bat, low on experience

ALSO READ: IPL 2018, Rajasthan Royals squad analysis: RR substantial with bat, spin deficient

Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith (retained 12.5 crore), Ben Stokes (12.5 c), Ajinkya Rahane (4 c), Stuart Binny (50 Lakh), Sanju Samson (8 c), Jos Buttler (4.4 c), Rahul Tripathi (3.4 c), D’Arcy Short (4 c), Jofra Archer (7.2 c), K Gowtham (6.2 Cr), Dhawal Kulkarni (75L RTM), Jaydev Unadkat (11.5 cr), Ankit Sharma (20L), Anureet Singh (30L), Zahir Khan Pakteen (60L), Shreyas Gopal (20L), MS Midhun (20L), Prashant Chopra (20L), Ben Laughlin (50L), Mahipal Lomror (20 L), Aryaman Birla (30 L), Jatin Saxena (20L), Dushmantha Chameera (50 L)

Kolkata Knight Riders: Sunil Narine (retained 12.5 crore), Andre Russell (retained 8.5), Mitchell Starc (9.4 c), Chris Lynn (9.6 c), Dinesh Karthik (7.4 c), Robin Uthappa (6.4 c), Piyush Chawla (4.2 c), Kuldeep Yadav (5.8 c), Shubman Gill (1.8 c), Ishank Jaggi (20 Lakh), Kamlesh Nagarkotti (3.2 c), Nitish Rana (3.4 c), Vinay Kumar (1 Cr), Apoorv Wankhade (20L), Rinku Singh (80 L), Shivam Mavi (3 Cr), Mitchell Johnson (2 Cr), Javon Searles (30 L), Cameron Delport (30 L)

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