Its been a tough period of late in international cricket for Rishabh Pant but Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting is backing the youngster to turn it around when the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets under way.
Pant had a tough time behind the stumps and with the bat in the fourth and fifth ODIs between India and Australia after standing in for MS Dhoni. The hosts would ultimately go on to lose the series 2-3 with Pant’s shoddy glovework coming under increasing criticism.
However, Ponting believes the young wicketkeeper batsman can rediscover his best in the upcoming IPL and is backing him to make the cut for India’s World Cup squad.
“I think it’s actually a big job for me and the coaches when he (Pant) comes in, to make him forget what’s happened in the last few days,” Ponting told the Times of India.
“He’s probably lucky it happened in the last couple of games. It would have been hard to play all five games under that kind of pressure. Now he’s back in a competition where he has dominated in the past.
“If he can win a couple of games for us then everything will be forgotten. I can’t see anyone better than him as a second wicketkeeper in that Indian World Cup squad.”
Having finished at the bottom of the IPL standings in 2019, the Delhi Capitals are aiming to win their maiden title. In a bid to shake things up, the franchise had roped in India stalwart Shikhar Dhawan from Sunrisers Hyderabad while appointing Sourav Ganguly as the team advisor.
With Dhawan in the squad, Ponting believes Delhi can put on a good show in the upcoming edition.
“You have to make sure you get the guys you know a lot about, then slot them into certain roles. This year we’ve got Shikhar Dhawan,” the former Australia skipper stated.
“We needed that really good Indian top-order batsman who averages about 450 runs a season for four-five years. That allows us to play a majority of foreign bowlers.”
Led by Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals will open their 2019 IPL campaign on March 24 with an away clash against Mumbai Indians.
They say T20 cricket is a young man’s game but time and time again, veterans have shown that age is just a number and they have a place in the shortest of three formats.
With the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) about to get under way, youngsters and veterans alike are all set to rub shoulders in the biggest franchise T20 league in the world.
Here, we take a look at the top five veteran players who will be under the spotlight during IPL 2019.
AMIT MISHRA – DELHI CAPITALS
A player who has been a permanent fixture in IPL history is Amit Mishra with the Delhi leg-spinner set to play in his 12th season. Mishra is the second highest wicket-taker in IPL history with 146 scalps and is only behind Lasith Malinga (154).
With the role of leg-spinners becoming increasingly significant in T20 cricket in recent years, Mishra has been handed a new lease of life. The 36-year-old made 10 appearances for Delhi in 2018, picking up 12 wickets, and will in all probability play a major part in the upcoming campaign as well.
Delhi also have Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane in their ranks but Mishra’s experience will be critical and it will not be a surprise to see both players feature in the playing XI simultaneously.
YUVRAJ SINGH – MUMBAI INDIANS
At 37, Yuvraj Singh is the oldest Indian in the fray in the upcoming IPL. The former India star all-rounder was once one of the most sought-after names in the league but his reputation has taken a massive beating following his displays for Kings XI Punjab last year.
The left-hander could only muster a paltry 65 runs from eight appearances in 2018 before being subsequently released from his contract. Yuvraj then nearly went unsold in the IPL auction this year before being brought at his base price by Mumbai Indians.
It is probably due to his reputation alone and the marketing opportunities it opens up that Yuvraj has found a taker for his services. If his 2018 performances are anything to go by, the star name is now a spent force and it would be a surprise to see him get more than a handful of games for Mumbai in the upcoming season.
SHANE WATSON – CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Also 37, Shane Watson is not exactly a spring chicken anymore but the veteran Australian is ageing like superbly well if his recent displays are anything to go by.
It was through the IPL that Watson worked his way back into the Australia squad following his exceptional displays for Rajasthan Royals in the 2008 edition. While he has participated in every single IPL edition so far bar 2009, Watson’s best-ever display in the competition came only last year with the Super Kings.
The opening batsman amassed 555 runs in Chennai’s title-winning campaign and registered two tons, including one in the final. He has been in terrific form in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) as well for Quetta Gladiators where he is currently the leading run-scorer in the competition.
With the ominous form he’s currently in, expect Watson to repeat or even better his 2018 heroics for Chennai.
IMRAN TAHIR – CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Getting older and 39-year-old Imran Tahir is the oldest player in the competition with the South African set for a second year with Chennai Super Kings. The Pakistan-born leg-spinner has been a proven performer for his country in the limited-overs formats over the years and will no doubt play a big part in the upcoming World Cup in England as well.
While Tahir will be determined to put on a good show in the World Cup, which will be his international swansong, the veteran is expected to struggle for game time at Chennai.
He was given only six appearances in the competition last year and the upcoming edition could see his game time curtailed even further, especially with Mitchell Santner coming back from injury.
CHRIS GAYLE – KINGS XI PUNJAB
Gayle nearly went unsold in the 2018 IPL auction before he was picked up by Kings XI Punjab at the behest of Virender Sehwag. That turned out to be a masterstroke with the ‘Universe Boss’ putting together some explosive innings while forging a lethal partnership with KL Rahul.
It looked like the veteran’s playing days were coming to an end this year when he announced his intention to retire from the ODI format following the completion of the ICC World Cup. However, Gayle was sensational in the West Windies’ recent ODI series against England where he blasted 424 runs in four innings with the help of a staggering 39 sixes.
There is clearly still some life left in the old warhorse and T20 cricket’s biggest superstar in history will be desperate to remind the IPL that he is still the king. With over 12,000 runs in the format and a whopping 21 centuries, they don’t come much better than Gayle in T20 cricket, and Kings XI fans could be in for a treat if he gets going in India.
In his new role, Ganguly will work closely with head coach Ricky Ponting and his support staff at Delhi in the upcoming IPL edition which begins on March 23.
“I am very pleased to come on board with the Delhi Capitals,” Ganguly was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“Having known the Jindals and the JSW Group for years, I am now excited to be a part of their latest sports venture. I am really looking forward to working with the players and the support staff.”
Formerly known as Delhi Daredevils, the franchise is still searching for their maiden IPL title. The team will be led by young Shreyas Iyer in the upcoming edition and will open their campaign away to Mumbai Indians on March 24.
Having roped in Ganguly’s expertise for the upcoming edition, Delhi are hoping to make amends for their bottom-place finish in 2018.
“Sourav is one of the most astute minds in world cricket. A lot of what we see in Indian cricket today was born because of Sourav,” Delhi Capitals chairman Parth Jindal stated.
“His aggression, positivity and never say die attitude are traits we want the Delhi Capitals team to imbibe. It is truly an honour that Sourav has chosen Delhi as his IPL team.
“I have no doubt that our team will benefit immensely from his experience, guidance and advice. Sourav has been like family to me and I am deeply humbled to have him as an advisor.”