Melbourne, Feb 7 (PTI) Rishabh Pant is confident of playing the entire IPL but the flamboyant cricketer could only be available as a batter and not behind the stumps, according to Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting.
Pant was involved in a life-threatening car accident in December, 2022 that forced him to undergo ligament reconstruction surgeries.
“Rishabh is very confident that he’s going to be right to play. In what capacity we’re not quite sure yet,” Ponting was quoted as saying by ‘ESPNCricinfo’.
“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.”
“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.”
In case Pant is not able to fulfil wicketkeeping duties, the 26-year-old could play as a pure batter or could be used as an Impact Player in the upcoming IPL, expected to begin in March.
“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. 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.”
David Warner led the Capitals last season and Ponting confirmed that star Australian batter would be captain if Pant is unavailable to do the job.
The franchise picked up young England batter Harry Brook for Rs 4 crore at the auction last year. While Ponting is happy with his squad, the two-time World Cup winning captain acknowledged the team has underperformed in the past two seasons.
“With Harry Brook coming into the set-up as well, so Warner, [Mitch] Marsh, Harry Brook, we’ve got some really good overseas batters,” Ponting said.
“Marsh and Warner will bat up the top somewhere and Harry Brook has been finishing off with England, so he’ll probably play a finishing role for us there.
“[If] we can get [Anrich] Nortje and Jhye Richardson fit, and with the two spin options we’ve got with Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav we’ve got a really good squad that to be fair has probably underperformed the last couple of years, so we’ve got some work to do.”
The Capitals had finished fifth in 2022 and ninth last season.