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‘Pant deserves to be…’: Ponting makes a big statement



Rishabh Pant

will play “every day of the week” in head coach

Ricky Ponting


Indian squad

for the forthcoming

T20 World Cup

, even though several well-known players are making a strong case with some outstanding performances in the current IPL.
Ponting was uncertain about Pant’s ability to return to the field after the horrifying vehicle accident in December 2022.

But given how he has been doing since getting back into the game and his incredible fortitude, the DC head coach is certain that he will be the player boarding the plane to New York by the end of the IPL.

“Do I believe whether Rishabh should be there in the World Cup squad? Absolutely I do. He deserves to be in that T20 World Cup squad by the end of the IPL,” Ponting told PTI in an exclusive interview.
“I think we have seen Rishabh play the way we have seen him play in the last five or six years in the IPL, and now back playing for India,” added the Australian batting great.
Pant continues to be Ponting’s first pick even though he recognised that Indian selectors have several alternatives when selecting a keeper-batter.

“One thing we certainly know is that there is a 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 KL 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,” the ‘Punter’ made his call.
Ponting and Pant have shared a special bond that has grown since his appointment as DC coach, and he gets a little emotional when he sees Pant performing at his best 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 about 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 would play again.”
But like with all champions, Pant refused to throw in the towel.
“There was never any doubt in his mind that he would 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 the last couple of games compared to the start of the tournament, he is starting to move well behind the stumps,” the coach sounded ecstatic.

‘Ricky Bhui and gulf between Ranji Trophy and IPL’

The Delhi Capitals have often faced criticism for their domestic scouting practices since the majority of their uncapped players have not been able to light up the stage. One example is Ricky Bhui, who amassed an incredible 902 runs in the Ranji Trophy, but the Andhra captain seemed to be a work in progress during the IPL.
Ponting attempted to justify the scouting procedure when questioned. However, he did provide some perspective, discussing the wide disparity and the difficulty of an uncapped local talent suddenly stepping up to 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 number one auction pick Harry Brook.
“You have to remember, Harry Brook, our No. 1 pick, decided not to come. We were a little unsure how much we were supposed 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.

‘Impact batter changing template of opening in T20Is’

Virat Kohli scored an IPL hundred this season off 67 balls, MI’s 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,” Ponting concluded.
(With PTI inputs)

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