Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting said he would love to have Rishabh Pant around the side for the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) if the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter is not physically fit to play in the tournament.
On December 30, around 5:30 am, Pant, 25, miraculously survived when his car collided with a road divider and caught fire on the Delhi-Dehradun highway. The horrific car accident happened between Manglaur and Narsan in the Haridwar district in the state of Uttarakhand.
Pant was initially taken to Saksham Hospital Multispecialty and Trauma Centre, before being admitted to Max Hospital, Dehradun for further treatment of multiple injuries. On January 4, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that Pant would be shifted to Mumbai via an air ambulance for surgery and further treatment.
Pant, also the skipper of Delhi Capitals in the IPL, is now on the long road to recovery and is under the direct supervision of Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala, the head of the Centre for Sports Medicine, and Director of Arthroscopy & Shoulder Service, at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri West, Mumbai.
“You can’t replace those guys, simple as that. They don’t grow on trees, players like that. We’ve got to look at – and we already are – a replacement to come into the squad, a wicketkeeper-batsman.”
“I want him sitting beside me in the dugout every day of the week. If he’s actually not physically fit enough to play, we’d still love to have him around. He’s the sort of cultural leader around the group, being the captain, and that attitude and infectious smile and laughs he has is what we all love so much about him.”
“If he’s actually able to travel and be around the team, then I want him sitting beside me in the dugout every day of the week. I’ll certainly be making sure, come the middle of March when we get together in Delhi and start our camps and stuff, if he’s able to be there, then I want him around the whole time,” said Ponting on The ICC Review Show.
The timeframe on Pant’s eventual return to cricket after making a full recovery from his multiple injuries remains unclear, with him set to miss India’s four Tests against Australia at home for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, starting from February 9 in Nagpur.
Ponting believes the brilliance of Pant’s Test batting will be a huge loss, not only for India but also for fans of the game who would have been anticipating a repeat of his 2021 heroics in Australia during the incredible 2-1 series triumph. As of now, Pant is ranked seventh on Men’s Test Batting rankings.
“When he first started, we probably all thought he was going to be a better T20 and one-day batsman than a Test batsman, but it’s actually worked the other way. His Test cricket has been remarkable.”
“Even the series coming up against Australia, the four-Test series there, we know how he played against Australia in Australia last time. He’d have been looking forward to that series, and the rest of the world would have been looking forward to watching him play,” he added.
Ponting, the two-time ODI World Cup-winning captain of Australia, revealed that he has been in contact with Pant for the last few days. “I absolutely love the bloke, I told him that on the phone the last couple of days. It was a horrifying time, a really scary time for everybody, let alone him.”
“Anyone that knows him loves him – he’s a really infectious young guy that has the world at his feet still. So we will keep our fingers crossed and hope that he can get back to playing sooner rather than later.”
Press Release, Source: IANS