Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Pant in focus as DC take on Punjab Kings


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Chandigarh, March 22: Rishabh Pant’s resilient return to the cricket field in multiple roles will be the focus when Delhi Capitals take on Punjab Kings in their IPL opener here on Saturday, both teams hoping to erase the disappointment of below-par performances in the last season.
Pant’s miraculous escape from a life-threatening car crash in December 2022 has now become a tale of perseverance after the big-hitting wicketkeeper-batter made a faster than expected recovery to be back in action.
He has been cleared to play as a keeper-batter and has the additional responsibility of captaining the side, taking back the position from David Warner, who led DC to a ninth-place finish in the 10-team tournament last year.
“He (Pant) has probably batted more in the last week than he has ever batted leading into most of the IPLs. I think from his point of view, he wants to get a bit of trust back in his body again,” said DC coach Ricky Ponting on Thursday ahead of the match to be played at the newly-constructed Maharaja Yadavindra Singh cricket stadium in Mullanpur here.
It has taken 15 months of hard work, courage and determination for Pant to be ready to lead DC again. He is a massive shot in the arm for the team whose best-ever performance in the IPL till date is a runners-up finish in 2020.
It is not yet clear whether Pant will start his keeping duties immediately. In case he doesn’t, DC will fall back on either West Indian Shai Hope or South Africa’s Tristan Stubbs.
DC have a potent fast bowling arsenal, backed up by an explosive batting lineup.
Warner, who recently retired from the Test cricket, will be hoping to make a mark and secure a spot in the T20 World Cup-bound Australian side.
In Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Pant and Stubbs, DC have explosive batting line-up, while their bowling attack will be led by Anrich Nortje in the company of Indian veteran Ishant Sharma, Mukesh Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel.
The Punjab trophy cabinet is empty too. They have made it to the final only once, in 2014, losing to Kolkata Knight Riders on that occasion.
After finishing sixth for four consecutive seasons between 2019 and 2022, PBKS dropped to eighth in 2023, and will look to turn things around this time.
In Shikhar Dhawan, PBKS have a skipper who would be desperate to prove a point after being side-lined from the national set-up.
PBKS have a new vice-captain in Jitesh Sharma but Jonny Bairstow’s form would be a concern.
The side have some feisty all-rounders in Sikandar Raza, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone and Rishi Dhawan while the bowling attack will be led by Kagiso Rabada in the company of Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel and Nathan Ellis. (PTI)


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