Wed, 31 Mar 2021

How Rishabh Pant's fate changed in 2021

More often than not, cricket is a game derived by timing. On Monday, Rishabh Pant got another feather in his cap as he was named the full-time captain of Delhi Capitals for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). That Shreyas Iyer, the full-time captain for the Delhi-based franchise dislocated his shoulder during the recently-concluded ODI series against England, meant that the Capitals had to do without his services for the majority of the upcoming campaign and his absence meant Rishab Pant was elevated to the leadership role.

If you are Rishabh Pant, you must believe you're destiny's favourite child. For how past six-odd months have transformed his life from being looked at as a mercurial yet slightly reckless young protege to being one of the most feared middle-order batsmen and now to cap it all, a captain of an IPL team! 

This will be 23-year-old Pant's debut as IPL captain and will serve as a great platform for him to mature, develop his game further and add different facets to him marshalling troops from behind the wicket. That the wicketkeeper-batsman has captained Delhi's state team in the past shall serve him in good stead. And to have someone like Ricky Ponting as a coach, and seasoned campaigners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane to back you up, it all looks like an upward trend for the man from Roorkee.

No praise shall be enough for the southpaw. Self-admittedly, he had some fitness issues, worked on that, and worked on his shot selection, which more often than not landed him a lot of criticism. If you expect a 21-year-old to play like a 30-year-old, it is tough to start with and Rishabh Pant has faced all the media trials, scrutinies and dealt with all that with his bat doing the bulk of the talking.

Rishabh Pant: biding his time

They say time and tide waits for none. For Rishabh Pant, from not being considered for the 2019 Cricket World Cup to being tagged as brash talent, much water has flown under the bridge. 
Pant is known for his attacking style of batting and has often been criticised in the past for not putting a price on his wicket. However, he has come a long way and has looked a much-improved batsman over the last few months.

Pant has been in a rich vein of form lately. He was one of the architects of India's historic 2-1 Test series win in Australia in January. He then played a big role in India's 3-1 Test series win against England, scoring 270 runs from six innings with the help of a century.

Pant also returned to India's white-ball team against England. After a decent outing in the T20 Internationals, he was in cracking form in the ODI series, hitting 77 and 78 in the two matches he played.

Rishabh Pant: In a league of his own

When it comes to cricket in India, everyone is bound to have an opinion and more often than not-Pant was ridiculed for his overexuberance and naivety. The Capitals were sensational for last year, before coming unstuck against Mumbai Indians in the summit clash last season. And although the team made it to the final last season, Pant's batting remained under par by his standards. Overall, he made 342 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of just 114 and an average of 31, with just one half-century. After Pant was left out of India's limited-overs squad for Australia, it seemed like his international has hit a roadblock. But Pant made a stunning return in Tests and made match-turning contributions in Sydney and in Adelaide to help India win the series Down Under.

The most heartening thing about this young man has been, that when most needed, Pant has played his role in turning around his team's fortunes and many hope the trend continues in IPL as well.