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Pant on course for return in IPL

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New Delhi, Feb 20: Rishabh Pant remains on course for a much-anticipated comeback in the IPL after taking part in a practice game organised by his franchise Delhi Capitals in Alur, Karnataka.
Pant, who met with a horrific car accident in December 2022, has been undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy and is working hard to regain match fitness before the start of the IPL.
The southpaw had also featured in an exhibition game last year.
“The match was part of assessing his mobility basically. He has been batting at nets for a while and playing in a practice game was more like an extension of it,” said a NCA source referring to the intra-squad game in Alur near Bengaluru.
Earlier this month, Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting had given a major update on Pant, saying the game changing cricketer was confident about his return in the IPL.
However, Pant may not be ready for wicketkeeping duties in the competition, as suggested by Ponting at an event in Melbourne.
“Rishabh is very confident that he’s going to be right to play. In what capacity we’re not quite sure yet,” Ponting had said.
“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 added.
Pant is also expected to lead Delhi Capitals. David Warner had captained in his absence last year.
“He’s such a dynamic player. He’s obviously our captain. We missed him incredibly last year,” Ponting said.
“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,” the former Australia captain had said on the sidelines of an MLC event.
The 26-year-old Pant has played 33 Tests, 30 ODIs and 66 T20s for India.
IPL set for March 22 start
The much-anticipated IPL is set to begin on March 22 and will be held entirely in the country despite the coinciding general elections, league chairman Arun Dhumal on Tuesday.
The elections are expected to be held in April and May and that is the main reason why the schedule for the IPL’s 17th edition has not been unveiled yet.
Dhumal said to begin with, only the schedule of the first 15 days will be announced and the roster for the remaining games will be decided after the announcement of the general election dates.
The dates of the Lok Sabha polls are expected to be announced early next month.
“We are looking at a March 22 start for the tournament. We are working closely with the government agencies and we will first release the initial schedule. The entire tournament will be held in India,” said Dhumal.
Only in 2009, the IPL, in its entirety, was held overseas (South Africa) while the 2014 edition was partially held in the UAE due to the general elections.
However, in 2019, the tournament was held in India despite the elections.
Considering the T20 World Cup begins within days of the cash-rich league’s conclusion, the final is likely to be held on May 26. (PTI)

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