Rishabh Pant is having a dream run this season. After playing a series-winning inning of 89 not out against Australia at Brisbane, he made his bat do all the talking in the series against England at home across all formats. And now as fate would have it, he has been blessed with the job of captaining Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021 after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the season due to an injury. Pant said his dream has come true, and he feels “humbled”.
But is Pant really the right choice to lead Delhi this season? Could not they have appointed experienced players in R Ashwin or Ajinkya Rahane or even Australian Steve Smith for the job was a better option?
Cricwizz takes a look.
Yes, he is the right choice
He can lead from the front
Of late, Pant has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of maturity, consistency, and being a true match-winner. His batting has been top-class, and his keeping has also improved tremendously. On current form, he is among the best players in professional cricket currently.
And hence, he can lead from the front with his bat, and inspire his teammates to play his aggressive brand of cricket, and win Delhi the elusive IPL trophy.
He has no baggage
With no captaincy experience in IPL, Pant would start afresh, and bring his own methods into play. He would attack, attack and attack – as that is the only way he plays. And it could be seen in his captaincy as well. And hence, it could provide new inroads for Delhi, and make an eventful season for them.
Delhi had no choice but to gamble on Pant
Delhi had few other captaincy contenders in R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, and Steve Smith. Delhi could have gone to either of them. But Delhi chose a youngster in Pant, 23, to show that the way forward is banking on the youth. The other three have had their share of captaincy, but with mixed results.
And hence, it was worth a gamble to put all money on making Pant the captain. Just like how India had banked on MS Dhoni as captain in the 2007 World T20, Delhi have had done the same.
But maybe not?
IPL is tough, captaincy tougher
Captaining in IPL is no joke. A few losses and the whole world will start questioning the captain, and his place in the squad. No one knows better than Delhi head coach Ricky Ponting who had to relieve captaincy and his playing spot after Mumbai Indians lost a few matches in 2013 IPL, and had to make way for Rohit Sharma.
Besides, franchisees and their fans are extremely demanding to see instant results. Earlier, teams have sacked or changed captain midway during the season to stop the run of losses. Can Pant survive the tough ask of a captain, and take Delhi to glory?
It could affect his batting
Previous IPL seasons show captaincy has affected the batting of greats, and they had no choice but to drop themselves as captain and play just as a batsman or bowler. And in some cases, drop themselves as both. Gautam Gambhir has dropped himself as both captain and player for Delhi Capitals in 2019 IPL to make way for Iyer.
Verdict: So, Pant may be flying high as a batsman now without the added responsibility of captaincy. But he now has to do the triple job of leading, keeping, and batting – and that could affect his performance. But unless Pant is asked to lead the team, he would not know how good could he be as captain-cum-batsman-keeper. Maybe, he can do what Dhoni has done successfully throughout his career? Let’s wait and watch.
Cover Credits: Delhi Capitals' Facebook page