Dubai: Delhi Capitals’ head coach Ricky Ponting is hoping his trump card Rishabh Pant can gel in with the aces starting with Sunday’s IPL opener against Kings XI Punjab in Dubai.
One of the two wicketkeeper/batsman — Australian Alex Carey is the other — much is expected from the left-hander Pant as he turns 23 next month.
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Since his debut at the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup in 2016, Pant has stamped his class over the past four years for both country and franchise. In February 2016, he hit an 18-ball fifty — the fastest knock at this level — and was called into the Indian team for his T20 debut in January 2017 followed by his Test and ODI debuts the following year. By January 2019, Pant was named the ICC Emerging Player of the Year.
“Rishabh can have a big tournament,” Ponting said of the young gun from Roorkee, Uttarkhand. “We are more about one person and one player. We are one team. But that said, Rishabh has turned the corner in the last week and if he can win us a few games, then that will hold us in good stead.”
Pant was bought by the then Delhi Daredevils on February 6, 2016 with the teen celebrating this occasion with a century in the U19 World Cup to guide India into the semi-finals. Playing only his third game of his IPL season, Pant made 69 runs from 40 balls to help Delhi to an eight-wicket victory over Gujarat Lions.
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As time passed, Pant only got better with the youngster scoring a blistering 97 off 43 balls against the Gujarat Lions the following year. In May 2018, Pant smashed an unbeaten 128 from 63 deliveries against the Sunrisers Hyderabad making him the highest Indian scorer in a T20 match (record was to be later broken by his current skipper Shreyas Iyer with 148 runs).
“Every game is always an important game for us all, be it the Indian players or the foreigners,” Ponting said. “What we are trying to do is get the pressure off them. Leadership is taking the pressure off and I have pretty high expectations from this team.”