“I couldn’t be happier to pass the baton to a good friend, someone I’ve known over the years,” says Virat Kohli
“I couldn’t be happier to pass the baton to a close friend, someone I’ve known over the years,” Kohli said in a recorded video. “We’ve been in touch for many years now. He’s one of the few guys I’ve gotten to know a little bit more about, apart from the cricket. My partnership with Faf is going to be exciting. The squad we’ve put together is great. Our team looks great balanced and strong, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Du Plessis, the former South Africa captain, became a front runner once the franchise surpassed Chennai Super Kings, his former team and Delhi Capitals last month to sign him for INR 7 crores. Super Kings aside, du Plessis also represented Rising Pune Supergiant in 2016 and 2017.
Glenn Maxwell, one of their three retentions, and Dinesh Karthik, another auction signer, were among the other contenders. However, the franchise considers them all – Kohli included – part of a central leadership group, along with du Plessis and Mike Hesson, the director of cricket.
“As an outsider, I am very grateful for the opportunity,” du Plessis said in Bengaluru. “It is no small matter to trust an outsider, a foreign player, to do the job as a leader. My style of doing that will not be ‘my way’. I will rely heavily on the great experience of our domestic and international players.
“After being a leader for a while, I’ve been traveling to create a culture, it’s close to my heart. First and foremost, my style will be a relational style. To connect with players and connect with everyone Getting to Know The first part of my journey would be to build relationships, trying to take care of the little things that drive each individual and how to make the most of them.’
du Plessis, a four-time IPL winner with the Super Kings, scored 633 runs on their title-winning run in 2021. He made a great opening combination with Ruturaj Gaikwad and was instrumental in bouncing the team back from seventh place in 2020.
“Not only is Faf a world-class player, he has also displayed a tremendous ability to lead on the international stage in all three formats of the game,” Hesson said. “His contribution on the pitch has been outstanding, but a leader who leads by example is very inspiring to any team. His experience and inclusive leadership style will certainly be crucial to maximize the knowledge of all leaders within our RCB squad. Captainship is It’s not just about tactics, it’s also about getting to know individuals and helping them achieve special things, we are confident that together with this group we can build the success of this team in the coming season.”
Now retired from South Africa colors, du Plessis is free from international obligations. He will be available all season, even if some of the other South African players are likely to miss the early stages due to their home run against Bangladesh.
But to win an IPL crown, the Royal Challengers are looking to build on their two back-to-back play-offs as they head into the new season. The three-time finalists open their campaign against Punjab Kings in Mumbai on March 27, the second day of the season.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo