New Delhi, Feb 7: Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting said wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant is ‘very confident’ of playing every game in IPL 2024, but added that he’s still unsure of him to captain the side or be the keeper. Pant, 26, miraculously survived a near-fatal car crash while on the way to his hometown Roorkee on December 30, 2022. He was then airlifted to Mumbai on January 4, 2023, for surgery and further recovery. MS Dhoni Interacts With Rishabh Pant and His Mother at Engagement Ceremony of Indian Wicketkeeper’s Sister, Video Goes Viral.
Since then, the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter has been doing extensive rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. Pant has been making remarkable progress in his recovery, with him being fit for IPL 2024 looking as a realistic possibility for making a return to competitive cricket.
"Rishabh is very confident that he's going to be right to play. In what capacity we're not quite sure yet. You would have seen all the social-media stuff, he's up and about and running well. But in saying that we're only six weeks away from the first game as well. So we're not sure if we'll get wicketkeeping out of him this year.
"But I'll guarantee if I asked him now he'll say, 'I'm playing every game, I'm keeping every game and I'm batting at No.4.' That's just what he's like, but we'll keep our fingers crossed. He's such a dynamic player. He's obviously our captain. We missed him incredibly last year," said Ponting in Melbourne to reporters after being named as head coach of Washington Freedom for the second season of the Major League Cricket (MLC) competition in the USA.
On a sensible note, Ponting said if Pant plays as many matches as possible in IPL 2024, it will be a bonus for the Capitals. "If you understand the journey he's been on the last 12-13 months, it was a horrific incident. One that I know he feels very lucky to have even survived, let alone have the chance to play cricket again.
"We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope that he can be out there and play. Even if it's not all the games, if we can manage him through 10 of the 14 games or whatever that might be then whatever games you can get out of him will be a bonus."
IPL 2024 is likely to start from last week of March and the Capitals are keen to put in a better performance after finishing at ninth place last season. The IPL 2020 runners-up had just two wins at their home ground, the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi, last year, where their batting failed to click as a unit.
"Our batting was disappointing last year. A lot of the guys that we felt would be able to handle difficult conditions in Delhi, a spinning wicket a lot of the time, we weren't good enough in those conditions. We've got some challenges with our home venue to be honest. We rock up every game, we're not really sure exactly what sort of wicket we're going to get."
"So you'd go to the auction expecting you're going to get one (type) of surface and you rock up for five games, seven games there and you get five different pitches so that does make it hard. But we definitely lacked on batting quality last year, which is what we've tried to really improve on this year." Rishabh Pant Among Many Cheated by Former Haryana Cricketer Impersonating IPS Officer, Arrested.
"We've gone to the well with a couple of really highly talented young Indian players that we think that are ready to play straight away. That's the thing about the IPL, it's one year to the big auction so it's not like you can really invest too much in these young blokes and hope to improve them overnight. You've got to get the best talent out there that you think's ready to play. And we've got a few of those this year," concluded Ponting.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 07, 2024 05:12 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).