IPL 2019: Ponting, Ganguly back Rishabh Pant to make India's No4 position his own

Sudhir Gupta 19/03/2019
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Rishabh Pant in action for India.

With the number four batting slot in India’s ODI squad still up for debate, Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting and team advisor Sourav Ganguly have backed young Rishabh Pant to make it his own.

Pant will be under the scanner in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) after his dismal displays for India in the recent ODI series defeat to Australia. The young wicketkeeper stood in for MS Dhoni in the fourth and fifth ODIs where his glovework behind the stumps came under increasing criticism.

However, Ponting and Ganguly are backing Pant to rediscover his 2018 IPL form where he smashed 684 runs at an average of 52.61 and a staggering strike-rate of 173.60.

“I would be picking him in the Indian team as the batsman for No.4 as he can win you the game with his talent. We want him to focus on IPL because if the boys do well they will get a call for the World Cup,” Ponting said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The former Australian skipper’s sentiments were echoed by Ganguly who is predicting a bright long-term future for the young wicketkeeper batsman.

“Look at how Pant played in the last IPL. In ODIs, Pant is coming in and going out because MS Dhoni is there and that doesn’t help. Pant is your future. For the next 10 years you will see a lot of him. He will be a huge asset for the Indian team,” Ganguly stated.

Although Kohli has stated that IPL performances will have no bearing on World Cup squad selections, Ganguly feels the upcoming franchise T20 league will help India decipher their No4 batting woes.

“Many choices are there but I think the IPL will in a way decide who will get that position. I had said (Cheteshwar) Pujara because he has been in good form. I saw (Rahul) Dravid do the role when I was captain. If you don’t have an option you can try him. Pant or (Ambati) Rayudu could be an option. We can give our opinion, but somewhere I feel Kohli knows who it should be,” he explained.

Delhi Capitals will be hunting for their maiden IPL title when the tournament gets underway on March 23. Captained by young Shreyas Iyer, Delhi will be hoping to make amends for their bottom-place finish in the previous edition.

Iyer and his men will open their IPL 2019 campaign against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium on March 24.

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IPL 2019: Complete league stage schedule and UAE TV guide

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The IPL 2019 Trophy. Image - @IPL/Twitter.

The BCCI on Tuesday released the schedule for the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) fixtures between April 6 and May 5.

The BCCI had earlier announced a provisional two-week initial schedule owing to the uncertainty surrounding the dates for India’s upcoming general election. With the Election Commission of India announcing the dates for the country’s general elections recently, the BCCI had released the schedule for the remainder of the league stage.

The schedule for the play-offs and the final are yet to be announced by the governing body. However, according to a report by ESPNcricinfo, the final of the IPL will be held at Chennai on May 12. The same report goes on to add that the first Qualifier will be held on May 7 followed by the Eliminator on May 8 while the second Qualifier will take place on May 10.

The format for the 2019 edition will follow the standard double round-robin approach of the eight franchises playing seven matches each at home and as many of them away.

The IPL will get under way on March 23 with defending champions Chennai Super Kings taking on Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chennai.

TV GUIDE

Viewers in the UAE can catch all the 2019 IPL action on beIN Sports.

IPL COMPLETE LEAGUE STAGE SCHEDULE (EXCLUDING KNOCKOUTS)

Saturday, March 23

Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore – 18:30 GST, Chennai

Sunday, March 24

Kolkata Knight Riders v Sunrisers Hyderabad – 14:30 GST, Kolkata

Mumbai Indians v Delhi Capitals – 18:30 GST, Mumbai

Monday, March 25

Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab – 18:30 GST, Jaipur

Tuesday, March 26

Delhi Capitals v Chennai Super Kings – 18:30 GST, Delhi

Wednesday, March 27

Kolkata Knight Riders v Kings XI Punjab – 18:30 GST, Kolkata

Thursday, March 28

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Mumbai Indians – 18:30 GST, Bengaluru

Friday, March 29

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Rajasthan Royals – 18:30 GST, Hyderabad

Saturday, March 30

Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians – 14:30 GST, Mohali

Delhi Capitals v Kolkata Knight Riders – 18:30 GST, Delhi

Sunday, March 31

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Royal Challengers Bangalore – 14:30 GST, Hyderabad

Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals – 18:30 GST, Chennai

Monday, April 1

Kings XI Punjab v Delhi Capitals – 18:30 GST, Mohali

Tuesday, April 2

Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore- 18:30 GST, Jaipur

Wednesday, April 3

Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings – 18:30 GST, Mumbai

Thursday, April 4

Delhi Capitals v Sunrisers Hyderabad 18:30 GST, Delhi

Friday, April 5

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders – 18:30 GST, Bengaluru

Saturday, April 6

Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab – 14:30 GST, Chennai

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Mumbai Indians – 18:30 GST, Hyderabad

Sunday, April 7

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Delhi Capitals – 14:30 GST, Bengaluru

Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders – 18:30 GST, Jaipur

Monday, April 8

Kings XI Punjab v Sunrisers Hyderabad – 18:30 GST, Mohali

Tuesday, April 9

Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders – 18:30 GST, Chennai

Wednesday, April 10

Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab – 18:30 GST, Mumbai

Thursday, April 11

Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings – 18:30 GST, Jaipur

Friday, April 12

Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Capitals – 18:30 GST, Kolkata

Saturday, April 13

Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals – 14:30 GST, Mumbai

Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore – 18:30 GST, Mohali

Sunday, April 14

Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings – 14:30 GST, Kolkata

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Delhi Capitals – 18:30 GST, Hyderabad

Monday, April 15

Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore – 18:30 GST, Mumbai

Tuesday, April 16

Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals – 18:30 GST, Mohali

Wednesday, April 17

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings – 18:30 GST, Hyderabad

Thursday, April 18

Delhi Capitals v Mumbai Indians – 18:30 GST, Delhi

Friday, April 19

Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore – 18:30 GST, Kolkata

Saturday, April 20

Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians – 14:30 GST, Jaipur

Delhi Capitals v Kings XI Punjab – 18:30 GST, Delhi

Sunday, April 21

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders – 14:30 GST, Hyderabad

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Chennai Super Kings – 18:30 GST, Bengaluru

Monday, April 22

Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Capitals – 18:30 GST, Jaipur

Tuesday, April 23

Chennai Super Kings v Sunrisers Hyderabad – 18:30 GST, Chennai

Wednesday, April 24

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab – 18:30 GST, Bengaluru

Thursday, April 25

Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals – 18:30 GST, Kolkata

Friday, April 26

Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians – 18:30 GST, Chennai

Saturday, April 27

Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad – 18:30 GST, Jaipur

Sunday, April 28

Delhi Capitals v Royal Challengers Bangalore – 14:30 GST, Delhi

Kolkata Knight Riders v Mumbai Indians – 18:30 GST, Kolkata

Monday, April 29

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kings XI Punjab – 18:30 GST, Hyderabad

Tuesday, April 30

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Rajasthan Royals – 18:30 GST, Bengaluru

Wednesday, May 1

Chennai Super Kings v Delhi Capitals – 18:30 GST, Chennai

Thursday, May 2

Mumbai Indians v Sunrisers Hyderabad – 18:30 GST, Mumbai

Friday, May 3

Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders – 18:30 GST, Mohali

Saturday, May 4

Delhi Capitals v Rajasthan Royals – 14:30 GST, Delhi

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad – 18:30 GST, Bengaluru

Sunday, May 5

Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings – 14:30 GST, Mohali

Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders – 18:30 GST, Mumbai

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IPL 2019: Steve Smith excited to link up with Jos Buttler at Rajasthan Royals

Waseem Ahmed 18/03/2019
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Steve Smith is looking forward to batting with Jos Buttler for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Australian batsman joined up with the squad on Monday ahead of the 2019 edition of the league.

“It’ll be great, makes things easier for me, batting with Jos,” Smith said during a live chat on Royals’ social media platforms.

“He’s an exciting player and one of the most destructive batters around the world. I’m really excited to play with him.”

Smith underwent elbow surgery earlier this year and has been readying himself for action in the IPL.

“I’ll be hitting as many balls as I can, getting myself into a good rhythm. I started batting a couple of weeks ago back home and I feel like I’m hitting the ball really well.”

This season will hand Smith his first opportunity to shine in front of the Jaipur crowd. He joined Rajasthan in 2014 but only played in the UAE due to general elections. He then turned out for Rising Pune Supergiants as the Royals were banned for two years for spot-fixing.

A ball-tampering scandal with Australia mean Smith missed last season after the BCCI banned him for a year.

“I never actually got a chance to play in Jaipur with the Royals. I’m really excited about that. I’m sure the fans are going to come out in big numbers and support us.”

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