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Delhi Capitals' captain Rishabh Pant in action during the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on April 20. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Every moment of Rishabh Pant’s life has had a second chance. Be it his return to the field from a near-death crash or getting an opportunity to play for India again.

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The 26-year-old wicketkeeper-batter was at his peak of form having played for India a total of 129 times in all three formats since 2017 when his luxury SUV rammed into a barrier, flipped and caught fire near New Delhi, that had almost threatened amputation of his leg.

But Pant was a fighter. The braveheart took baby steps to recovery in an effort to get back to do what he loved doing the most.

It was painful but Pant never gave up. After 16 months of strenuous effort, Pant was a happy soul when he was named in the squad for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies and the USA in June.

It wasn’t easy. He was fighting against five other wicketkeepers — KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, Jitesh Sharma and veteran Dinesh Karthik — competing for the two slots.

The Delhi batter was the centre of the attention when he was announced fit to play the Indian Premier League Season 17, and he made his return count with some fine performances. He proved his fitness level and match readiness scoring 398 runs in 11 matches to be fourth in the race for the Orange Cap.


Pant had termed his comeback to the game as “nothing short of a miracle” after a crash in December 2022. “The kind of accident I had, I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.

“I think it was very challenging, especially the first part I would say more from a physical point of view ... there was a lot of pain to be endured.”

The crash left him with a damaged ligament in his right knee, a hurt wrist and ankle, and abrasions to his back.

He fought back after an intensive rehabilitation programme and time on crutches at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

Once deemed fit, Pant was reinstated as captain of Delhi Capitals for the ongoing season after Australia opener David Warner led the team in his absence last year.

His first match back earned him a standing ovation from the crowd after a 51 off 32 balls.

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Rishabh Pant runs out Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma during the Indian Premier League match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on April 27. Image Credit: AFP


Other than impressing with the bat, the Delhi skipper also showed his masterclass behind the stumps. The stunning catch he took to dismiss David Miller of Gujarat Titans stood out among them.

Pant could fill the gap, rather a glaring hole, that sank Delhi’s ship last season. Delhi are still not certain of booking a place in the play-off, nevertheless a far better performance to finishing ninth in the 10-team league in 2023.

There are at least three more games to be played for Pant and by enduring the gruelling schedule, it would have given him the required confidence ahead of the World Cup.

The accident has changed Pant as a person who is now appreciating all the small things, but that has not changed his game. The aggression still remains.

To know the importance of Pant one has to rewind a couple of months to hear what skipper Rohit Sharma had to say on the precocious talent of Pant.

The Indian skipper, on the eve of the fifth and final Test against England at Dharamsala, said: “There was a guy called Rishabh Pant in our team, probably Ben Duckett hasn’t seen him play.”

He was responding to Duckett’s claim that England should probably take credit for the way players from the opposition were playing aggressive cricket, in reference to Yashasvi Jaiswal’s stunning century.

Pant’s addition in the team adds immense strength to the lower order and the left-hander has the ability to raise his game under pressure. Pant lead India to a stunning win over Australia in the fourth Test in Gabba is probably one of the best knocks in history of cricket.

Pant’s aggressive instincts were missed in the final of the 50-over World Cup against Australia. Now, with his return, India should be having a match-winner for the death overs.