After posting scores of 15, 16, 23, 28 and 2 in the first five Indian Premier League games this season, Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kumar Sangakkara dropped himself from the squad due to a perceived lack of form. But the Sri Lankan's return to the side looks imminent as his replacement has drawn a blank too.
Although the Sunrisers have won their previous two games -- against Pune Warriors and Kings XI Punjab - sans Sangakkara, the Lankan's replacement Quinton de Kock hasn't been the most impressive. The South African opener scored 2 against Pune and was bowled by Praveen Kumar for a duck on Friday night versus Kings XI.
"Sangakkara dropped himself for Quinton de Kock. But with scores 2 and 0, De Kock has not done himself any favours in retaining his place," said NDTVs cricket expert Dean Jones.
During the tour to Australia late last year, Sangakkara suffered a hand injury that kept him out of action until the IPL. As a result of the injury, the 35-year-old has relinquished wicket-keeping duties for the Sunrisers, with Parthiv Patel and De Kock sharing the responsibility. "Sanga's injury means he can't keep wickets and therefore Hyderabad will also have to draft Parthiv Patel in to their side," added Jones.
"Look it's obvious that a class player like Sangakkara has dropped himself. It is not a management decision," said Farokh Engineer. "Sanga is a far better batsman than De Kock - no question about it!"
The overriding feeling between Jones and Engineer was that Sangakkara should probably draft himself back in to the side.
The trend of 'selfless' captains was started by Daniel Vettori last year. The then-skipper of the Royal Challengers Bangalore side dropped himself in favour of playing Muttiah Muralitharan as one of the four foreigners allowed in the playing XI, with Virat Kohli taking over captaincy duties.
Parallels can be drawn this season between Sangakkara and his much younger compatriot Angelo Mathews, who captains the Pune Warriors. Mathews was recently made captain of the Sri Lankan national side but has been caught off-guard in the IPL so far.
Many of Mathews' decisions have been questionable, and Pune are languishing 8th in the table, with just two wins from 6 games. Steven Smith was a surprise omission from the first few games, and proved his worth with a Man of the Match performance in the victory over Chennai Super Kings.
Mathews has scores of 8, 4, 1*, 19 and 20 in five innings and has picked up just 1 wicket in the tournament so far. With Aaron Finch having sealed the opening slot with a couple of half-centuries and Steven Smith indispensable, Mathews may have to go the 'Sangakkara route' to accommodate the likes of Marlon Samuels, Ross Taylor, Mitchell Marsh and Twenty20 specialist Luke Wright.