Australian opener David Warner will replace Rishabh Pant as captain of the Delhi Capitals for the forthcoming Indian T20 franchise league season. Pant is unavailable as he continues to recover from the serious injuries that he sustained in a car crash over the New Year period. In his absence, Delhi head coach Ricky Ponting, and the rest of the team’s management, have decided that Warner is the best man to lead the franchise on the pitch.
Axar Patel, the team’s vice-captain last season, will continue in that role.
This is not the first time he will have led the Delhi side. During his first stint with the franchise, between 2009 and 2013, when they were still known as the Daredevils, he acted as interim captain for several matches.
Pant has been with the Capitals since they bought him ahead of the 2016 season. In 2021 he was named captain for that season of the Indian T20 franchise league, after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the entire tournament with an injury, a role he retained for 2022.
In that first season under his leadership, the franchise reached the preliminary final before losing to the Kolkata Knight Riders. Last year, though, they failed to make the play-offs, missing out in the final game due to a narrow loss at the hands of the Mumbai Indians..
On December 30th last year, as he was driving home to be with his mother, the car he was driving hit a central divider on the road and burst into flames. Passers-by pulled him from the wreckage, but he had sustained a number of serious injuries to his head, back and foot, as well as a ligament tear to his right knee.
He is making a slow recovery, and hopes to be back playing again so that he can compete for a spot in India’s World Cup squad later this year.
Warner’s Indian franchise league career
In fact, Warner has proved he has the credentials for the job in the past, Bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014, he was appointed captain in 2015, and, the following year, led them to the title for the first, and, to date, only time in their history.
In overall terms, he is the joint fifth most successful captain in the history of the tournament, having won 35 and drawn two out of the 74 matches in which he has led the team.
He remains one of the most successful batters in the history of the league, having won the Orange Cap (awarded to the leading run scorer in a season) three times, in 2015, 2017, and, again in 2019, the only man to do so.
And, last season, he was the leading run scorer for the Capitals, scoring 432 runs at an average of 48.
Despite that, the Australian remains a controversial figure. He was banned from competing in the 2018 competition altogether, along with international team-mate Steve Smith, for their part in the infamous “Sandpaper gate” ball tampering incident during Australia tour of South Africa in March of that year.
And, then, in 2021, poor form with the bat in the first part of the season saw the Sunrisers bench him, and then oust him as captain in favour of New Zealand’s Kane Williamson. That led to a bitter falling out with the Sunrisers, who eventually released him at the end of that season.
He was subsequently bought by the Capitals in the 2022 auction for approximately USD 762,000.
Warner continues to attract headlines. Earlier this year, he was finally forced to abandon his appeal against the ban on him occupying any sort of captaincy role with the Australian national team which was imposed on him after the events in South Africa.
Part of the side that travelled to India on their recent tour, he struggled in the first two tests, and then was forced to return home after being struck on the elbow by a delivery in the second test in Delhi.
He has since returned and will play in the three match ODI series.
Now 36, Warner will almost certainly be part of the Australia squad for the World Cup, and leading the Capitals in the franchise league will be good practice for him ahead of that.
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