« Back to articlePrint this article

Pant deserves to be in Indian team for T20 World Cup: Ponting

April 16, 2024 20:05 IST

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant is Delhi Capitals' leading run-scorer in IPL 2024, with 194 runs in six matches at a strike rate of 157. Photograph: BCCI

In Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting's Indian team for the upcoming T20 World Cup, Rishabh Pant will feature 'every day of the week' despite some established wicketkeeper-batters staking claim with their exploits in IPL 2024.


Ponting admitted he was not sure whether Pant would be able to play again after the horrific car accident in December 2022.

But having seen the manner in which Pant has been making an impact since returning to action on the back of his remarkable resilience, the DC head coach is left with no doubt about who should board the plane to New York at the end of the IPL.

Pant is Delhi Capitals' leading run-scorer in IPL 2024, with 194 runs in six matches at a strike rate of 157.

"Do I believe whether Rishabh should be there in the World Cup squad? Absolutely I do. He deserves to be in that WT20 squad by the end of the IPL," Ponting told PTI.

"I think we have seen Rishabh play the way we have seen him play in last five or six years in IPL, and now back playing for India," added the Australian batting great.

While he acknowledged that there are lots of options for Indian selectors as far as choosing a wicketkeeper-batter goes, Pant remains the No.1 choice for him. Among the other wicketkeepers, Sanju Samson has enjoyed a good season for Rajasthan Royals, stroking 264 runs in seven games at a strike rate of 155, while veteran Dinesh Karthik has made 226 runs at a strike rate of 205 and K L Rahul has hit 204 runs at a strike rate of 138.

"One thing we certainly know that there is lot of depth around Indian cricket. With keeper-batters, I feel some guys are in really good form at the moment. (Ishan) Kishan is playing well, (Sanju) Samson is playing well and K L Rahul is playing well.

"There are a lot of options but if I was picking a team, I would have Rishabh Pant in it every day of the week."

Since his entry as DC coach, Ponting has shared a special bond with Pant and he is a touch emotional seeing him in full flow once again.

"Rishabh's comeback to international cricket is nothing short of remarkable. I spent a lot of time with him during last IPL and a lot of us were actually sceptical that whether he will actually play the game again, such a horrific accident and I had spoken to him about it, I wasn't sure whether he will play again."

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant with Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting. Photograph: BCCI

But like with all champions, Pant refused to throw in the towel.

"There was never any doubt in his mind that he will be back playing again. As each game goes by, we are starting to see a better and better version of Rishabh Pant, his batting has had more impact in last couple of games compared to start of the tournament, he is starting to move well behind the stumps," said the Australian.

Delhi Capitals have often been panned for their domestic scouting process as most of their uncapped players have failed to set the stage on fire. A case in point is Ricky Bhui, who scored an astounding 902 runs in Ranji Trophy but at the IPL stage, the Andhra skipper looks like a work in progress.

When asked, Ponting tried to defend the scouting process. But he did put things in perspective and spoke about the big gulf and the challenge for an uncapped domestic player to suddenly raise his game by a few notches to match the IPL's international standards.

"Ricky Bhui's point that you make is a perfect example of that. He had a terrific season, looked incredible every time he has batted in the nets through last month, but when he comes up against Nandre Burger he has never seen fast bowling like that, never faced someone who could bowl high 140 kmph and executed perfect bouncer second ball, you feel for the players certainly but I don't think we have done anything wrong recruitment wise," Ponting said.

For Ponting, one of the big problems was the absence of their No 1 auction pick Harry Brook.

"You have to remember, Harry Brook, our No. 1 pick, decided not to come. We were little unsure how much we were suppose to get out of Rishabh, if he plays at all, let alone keeping and batting.
"A bit of our strategy was on finding a second keeper batter, which we did with Kushagra," he said.

"Definitely, a big part of scouting is to identify guys who can make the next step up, and that too really quickly because it is a big step up from playing domestic cricket in India to playing IPL," he reasoned.

Virat Kohli scored an IPL hundred this season off 67 balls, Rohit Sharma completed his ton in 61 deliveries, while Travis Head needed merely 39 balls to reach the milestone.

Is a 60-ball-100 by an opener in T20 slowly becoming a thing of the past? Ponting gave an insightful explanation.

"Not necessarily that you have to score 40-ball 100 (every time). It also depends on scoring rate of other batters around you. It's no good getting 60-ball 100 if the guy at other end is also scoring at 100 strike-rate, and then you would often end up with 180 (MI 186/6 vs CSK)," Ponting said.

"Like Travis Head last night, he is becoming a very good white ball player, but if you don't have that eighth batter, which comes in form of Impact Player, I don't know whether teams would be as attacking as they have been."

© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.