« Back to articlePrint this article

Will be extra special to walk out for toss with Dhoni: Pant

April 09, 2021 18:44 IST

'I have learned a lot from him, and I have gained a lot of experience from him.'

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: BCCI

Having finished as the runner-up of the previous edition of the Indian Premier League, the Delhi Capitals will start their 14th edition of the IPL against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai, on Saturday.


Delhi Capitals, led by the young Rishabh Pant, are aiming for a winning start in their opening match.

"The CSK have got a good squad of players and they've got lots of flexibility and a lot of options. But we've got a great squad as well and we want to build on last season. I have said to the boys that it's not about last season, but there are a lot of positives that we can take from the way we have played in the last couple of seasons.

"Although we've got a slightly different squad, we expect to play better as a group and achieve some better results. So, for us, Chennai Super Kings is just game one. We need to approach it with the right attitude and play well. Hopefully, win that game and move onto the second game. But we know that we'll have to play well to win," said head coach Ricky Ponting.

The Australian added that Suresh Raina, who missed the last season, will make a big difference to CSK this season.

"The Chennai Super Kings have been one of the most successful teams in the history of the IPL. They have got a great leader and a great squad of players. They have always managed to play consistent cricket. Last year, they were probably disappointed with the way their season worked out, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that Suresh Raina wasn't there for the entire tournament. He comes back to the squad this year, which is almost like a new recruit for them."

Captain Pant expressed that it will be very special for him to lead an IPL team for the first time in a match against Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side.

"It will be extra special to walk out for the toss with MS Dhoni tomorrow. This will be the first time that I will be leading an IPL team and the first match is against Mahi bhai. I have learned a lot from him, and I have gained a lot of experience from him. Hopefully, I can use this experience against him, and we can win this match. That's what I am looking forward to."

Pant added that the Delhi Capitals squad for IPL 2021 has a great mix of experience and youth.

"I have been talking to the senior players like Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane about the fields we can set and other strategic decisions for the team. I have been talking to Ricky and our bowling coach James Hopes as well. There is a good mix of seniors and juniors in our squad and I think with the help of Ricky, we can do something different this year."

Head coach Ponting said that all players are hungry to perform and are ready for another challenge in the IPL.

"I am really happy about how our last 10-11 days have gone. There will be certainly no excuses from us about how we perform in game 1. We have got a great group of players, who are hungry and excited for another challenge for us as a franchise and a team. So, I am excited to see how the boys play tomorrow."

Pant expressed that he is just looking to keep things simple in his first match as IPL captain.

"I haven't thought about the fact that it's my first match as captain in the IPL. I am just going to keep things simple and give my 100 percent. You get a good idea about setting fields as a wicketkeeper and now as captain I will be making the changes in the field directly. So, there's not going to be much of a difference for me," said the young left-hander.