Delhi Capitals (DC) head coach Ricky Ponting on Tuesday (September 21) showered rich praise on Rishabh Pant, saying that the latter’s maturity “has gone through the roof” in the last couple of seasons as he has evolved from a swashbuckling keeper-batsman to a leader of the pack.
In the absence of injured Shreyas Iyer, the 23-year-old Pant got the opportunity to lead DC in the first phase of IPL 2021. Under his captaincy, the Capitals won 6 out of 8 games and finished at the top on the points table when the tournament was cancelled in May due to COVID cases in the bio-bubble of multiple franchises.
While Iyer regained fitness for the UAE-leg of IPL 2021, DC still retained Pant as captain and they will resume their campaign against SRH in Dubai on Wednesday (September 22).
“Rishabh’s level of maturity in the last two seasons has gone through the roof,” Ponting said ahead of the game.
“When I first came in, he just burst on to the scene. I had said we are going to see the unearthing of someone who is going to play for India for a long time. I could see that coming. I could see how much he wanted to be in every Indian team.
“It will take a very good player to knock him off that Indian team. He has done a terrific job so far (leading DC in IPL). We are all striving for something special. This year we want to go one step further and Rishabh is going to play an integral part in that.”
Under Iyer’s captaincy, DC reached their maiden IPL final last season but lost to Mumbai Indians in the summit clash in UAE.
Keen to win their first silverware, Pant said the team needs to give just 10-15 percent more than last season.
“We are better than last time this year. We have been focussing on the process for two-three years. We don’t have to do too many things differently from last year. We can do the same things and give 10-15 percent extra,” the DC skipper said.
Delhi Capitals’ middle-order is studded with Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer apart from Pant and Ponting has a lot of confidence in it.
“Stoinis has had actually really big impact on us. He has the talent to be a great all-rounder in world cricket, especially in white-ball. We have got a lot of finishing power there with Hetmyer, Stoinis and Pant… makes our batting lineup really strong and really deep.”
Ponting is also elated to have Shreyas Iyer back in the squad, who missed the first leg due to a shoulder injury.
“I am delighted to have him back in the team. He has been an exceptional player for Delhi, a world-class player. It does make our team look a little more complete.”
DC have plenty of senior players in their ranks including Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin.
When asked how he managed them all, the coach replied: “I manage everyone the same way, everyone is on the same page in our team. We treat each other equally, that’s certainly the way we try to go about. We have a good mix of youth and experience. We also do rely on our senior players as, at the end of the day, Rishabh is not always going to be right. So we bring everybody along the journey.”
Pant isn’t reading too much into their performance in the first leg, which happened four months ago.
“That performance in first half counts obviously but we just want to focus one match at a time. We don’t discuss that as a team and focus on our process.
“As a player, I don’t think too much. I try to make most of the opportunity I get, move on, and keep learning everyday.”