World Cup squad

Ganguly and Ponting are “sure” that Pant will make the World Cup team.

Two weeks prior to the IPL 2024 season, Rishabh Pant, who survived a near-fatal vehicle accident in December 2022, was cleared by the BCCI’s medical panel to return to his position as wicketkeeper-batter for the Delhi Capitals. Even after a lengthy 14-month rehabilitation for the psychological and physical effects of a near-death encounter, there were still concerns.

It was agreed upon that the Indian team management would proceed with prudence and advise DC to wait for Pant the keeper’s return. As a result, national think tanks placed a great priority on selecting their first-choice wicketkeeper for the forthcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA, which begins one week after the May 26 finale. This was done prior to the commencement of the 2017 IPL season. The leading candidates were Jitesh Sharma and Ishan Kishan, who had received backing in Pant’s absence, albeit sporadically.

On the other hand, Pant was listed on the Capitals’ teamsheet as the team’s captain and ‘keeper’ for their opening match against Punjab Kings, starting ahead of backups Shai Hope and Tristan Stubbs. The southpaw’s comeback knock was brief, but upon returning to competitive cricket after 453 days, he passed both the batting and keeping tests.

Since Pant took up where he left off, DC head coach Ricky Ponting and the team’s director of cricket, Sourav Ganguly, have no qualms about asserting that Pant may have outperformed his contemporaries and made a compelling case for his international comeback at the World Cup in the Caribbean.

Regarding Pant’s prospects of making the Indian World Cup squad, Ganguly remarked, “I think so, yeah, I think yes.” At a DC media day in New Delhi, the former BCCI chairman said, “Only 15 can make it, but as in any sport it happens, the most equipped and the better ones play and I think Pant is definitely in that bracket, I’m sure he’ll be going to West Indies.”

“In the middle order, he ought to bat. In Twenty20 cricket, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint a certain location due to several aspects such as matchups, bowler’s right-left combinations, and game circumstances. Nobody, from number three to number seven, can probably not declare for sure what their fixed place is. In regards to Pant’s desired batting position, Ganguly continued, “It doesn’t work like that in T20 cricket especially.”

Pant has played all eight of DC’s IPL 2024 matches so far, seemingly without any problems. With 254 runs at an average of 36.29 and a strike-rate just over 150, Pant leads the club in scoring. Even though the raw statistics could suggest that “he never left,” there has been a consistent return to the destructive batter in the style of the late Rishabh Pant. After dispelling scepticism about even the prospect of a return to arduous recovery, Pant went on to play a cool 18 off 13 in his comeback then, three innings later, a typically Pant-like 55 off 25 against KKR. The middle-order hitter, who is the only player from Washington to do so, has surged into the top-15 in the season’s batting charts.

Ponting went into depth on how, over the past month, the 26-year-old has managed to rebuild confidence in his physique despite handling greater workloads. Regarding Pant’s development, the Australian stated, “It’s pretty obvious that he’s seemingly gotten better and better every game.”

“I believe that he is also beginning to have a little more faith and confidence in his body. He had been a little nervous at first about his abilities, particularly in the wicketkeeping department. He had batted a little amount before the competition, so he had some confidence in his leg when holding the bat, but based on his ability to play every game as a keeper thus far, I believe his batting is improving with each passing game.

Since he’s returned to the game, I’ve already fielded a number of questions about his prospects for the World Cup. He’ll definitely be in the squad, in my opinion. The former Australian captain stated, “He’s too good a player and can affect games too much for India to not pick him.”

Axar Patel, who has played alongside Pant for India and at Dc, provided insight into Pant’s development after the injury. “I believe that after a year and a half, the Rishabh Pant I’m seeing is much more patient and mature.

“Even his speech has grown in maturity.” It used to be all about wanting to prove or demonstrate something, but these days he talks a lot about taking time in between games and winning them for the team. With the bat, he’s still the same guy—scoring runs in the same manner and supporting plays on the field—but he’s much more composed and less prone to losing his cool over insignificant issues.”

Although Pant might have a different outlook on life at this point, Ponting pointed out that there is complete confidence in Pant’s strategy and demeanour on the field.

To be honest, I don’t think he’s changed all that much as a cricket player. It’s possible that his perspective on life has slightly changed over time. He’s been going through some very scary situations. You consider the event in isolation, but it would have been a nightmare for anyone to consider that he could never be able to play cricket or do what he loves. Given the severity of his injuries, which was evident even during our initial encounter during the 2017 Indian Premier League, I have to confess that I was apprehensive about his prospects of returning to the field. But he’s put in a tonne of work.

“This franchise has been incredibly helpful in doing everything they can to give him the opportunity to regain his full health, and at the moment, he’s not too far off from doing so. Since you have all undoubtedly observed him intently during every game, you are all aware of his excellent sprinting between the wickets, excellent keeping, flawless hand-eye coordination when using the gloves, and fluid movement. More importantly, I noticed that he didn’t seem to have much to be joyful about when I visited him shortly after the accident, but the most important thing is that he is back playing and playing well, and that is what makes him grin again.”