This is the first time du Plessis has been entrusted with leadership responsibilities by an IPL team
du Plessis, the former South Africa captain, became a frontrunner as soon as the franchise outbid Chennai Super Kings, his former team, and Delhi Capitals to sign him for INR 7 crores last month. Super Kings aside, du Plessis has also represented Rising Pune Supergiant in 2016 and 2017.
Glenn Maxwell, one of their three retentions, and Dinesh Karthik, another signing at the auction, were among the other candidates in the fray. The franchise, however, looks at all of them – Kohli included – as part of a central leadership group along with du Plessis and Mike Hesson, the director of cricket.
du Plessis, a four-time IPL winner with the Super Kings, scored 633 runs during their title-winning run in 2021. He formed a terrific opening combination with Ruturaj Gaikwad and was instrumental in the team bouncing back from a last-placed finish in 2020.
Now retired from South Africa colors, du Plessis is free of International commitments. He will be available for the entire season, even as some of the other South African players are likely to miss the early stages due to their home series against Bangladesh.
Yet to win an IPL crown, the Royal Challengers are looking to build on their two back-to-back playoffs appearances as they build towards the new season. The three-time finalists open their campaign against Punjab Kings in Mumbai on March 27, the second day of the season.
More to follow
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo