Rishabh Pant is set to make a grand comeback in IPL 2024, captaining the Delhi Capitals after a full recovery from the car accident in late 2022, according to a report on Cricbuzz.
While Pant's return was anticipated, the fact that he is set to return as captain is a remarkable turnaround for the Indian wicketkeeper batter, who is now in with a chance to also make India’s squad for the T20 World Cup after the IPL.
Last year, Pant's absence was a significant blow to the Delhi Capitals, as they struggled without his leadership and finished ninth in the points table.
His absence was due to a near-fatal car accident on New Year's Eve, leading to surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation process. However, the 26-year-old has been fighting his way back to fitness, with training videos doing the rounds on social media in recent weeks.
Currently undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, Pant is expected to regain full fitness by the end of February.
His participation in the IPL, however, hinges on clearance from the NCA managers. This cautious approach is understandable, given the severity of his injuries, which included a right knee surgery performed by Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala in Mumbai.
The Delhi Capitals have expressed their full support for Pant, confirming his role as the captain for the 2024 season. This decision underscores the franchise's confidence in Pant's abilities, both as a player and a captain.
Change in role for Rishabh Pant at Delhi Capitals for IPL 2024?
However, there's a twist in his role this time around. Initially, there were speculations that Pant might be used solely as an Impact Player, focusing on his batting and fielding skills.
But the franchise has clarified that Pant will take on wicketkeeping duties only if cleared by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Pant's journey over the past year has been challenging. He missed several international fixtures, including the four-Test home series against Australia, the 2023 IPL, and tours to the West Indies, Ireland, and the World Cup. His absence was not only felt by the Delhi Capitals but also by the Indian cricket team.
Despite these setbacks, Pant's spirit remains unbroken. His recovery and return to the IPL are significant not just for the Delhi Capitals but also for his countless fans, who have been eagerly awaiting his return to the field.
Pant's impact as a player and a leader is expected to be as profound as ever.
As the mini-auction on December 19 in Dubai approaches, the Delhi Capitals, armed with a substantial budget, are looking to strengthen their squad.
They might want to go for a few backup wicketkeepers with Pant yet to be fully cleared to keep wickets.
Understandably, BCCI wants to take a cautious approach with Pant, too, with the T20 World Cup around the corner and India’s keeping options sparse despite Ishan Kishan and Jitesh Sharma showing promise.
If Pant has a good IPL season, fitness and form-wise, there’ll be little stopping him from making the squad for the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA.