IPL: Rishabh Pant as Delhi Captain Is a Win-Win Situation for All
With Shreyas Iyer ruled out due to a shoulder injury, Delhi Capitals named Rishabh Pant the captain for IPL 2021.
The last three months or so have been a tremendous period of personal growth for Rishabh Pant. The way he performed both as a batsman and as a wicket-keeper in Australia, and also in the following home series against England, showed how hard he has worked on improving himself, not only as a player but also as a person.
During this period, he has not only dug his team out of trouble but has also taken them to glorious victories from adverse situations. There is a semblance of clarity in Pant's thought process right now. For he has learnt how to be in control of his own aggressive nature and instincts.
Now, he better understands the situations where he needs to let the fire out and where he doesn't. Pant has just found that fine balance in his game.
So, with their regular skipper Shreyas Iyer ruled out of the entire IPL 2021 season with a shoulder injury, it wasn't a difficult decision for the Delhi Capitals' management to hand over the responsibility of leading the team to Pant.
Many may feel that the responsibility of leading a team could be a bit too much for the 23-year-old, afterall, he has just started to find some stability at this level. But considering the kind of confidence he has in himself right now and the robust nature of the Delhi Capitals setup, Pant's appointment as captain comes out as a win-win situation for everyone.
Pant Has the Confidence and Desire
The youngster has the experience of leading the Delhi state side previously, at the early age of 19. So, captaincy isn't something that is going to be new or too overwhelming for him.
Yes, leading an IPL team is a totally different proposition but Pant is high on confidence at the moment, owing to his recent exploits for India at the international level. Moreover, he himself has admitted that he always had the desire to lead the team one day.
“Delhi is where I grew up, and where my IPL journey began six years ago. To lead this team one day is a dream I’ve always harboured,” Pant said after being officially announced as the Delhi Capitals’ captain for IPL 2021.
"And today, as that dream comes true, I feel humbled. I am truly grateful, especially to our team owners, who considered me capable enough for this role. With an amazing coaching staff, and a plethora of accomplished seniors around me, I can't wait to give my absolute best for Delhi Capitals," he added.
His statement shows that he is not afraid or nervous about his new responsibility. In fact, this is something he has always wanted and now that his dream is coming true, he will be looking to enjoy every bit of this opportunity.
Even if things get too tough for him, Pant has experienced individuals like R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith to help him out. All three of these players have the experience of leading IPL franchises previously and their presence in the setup will certainly boost Pant's confidence.
Improved Brand Value for Delhi Capitals, JSW Group and Pant Himself
Pant has become the poster boy of Indian cricket of late. His batting heroics during the tour Down Under and in the recently concluded home series against England have drawn attention from all around the world. He is already a sporting icon for the Indian youth and will slowly become a brand in himself, as he keeps progressing in his career.
He is someone who embodies the current generation of Indian youth. He is fearless and bold. But, at the same time, he is fully dedicated to fulfilling his responsibilities. Pant is someone the Indian youth can deeply connect with.
A couple of months back, JSW Sports had signed the 23-year-old in an exclusive talent management contract. He was the first cricketer they went on to have in their roster and it is a big scoop for them, as they will manage all commercial interests and marketing rights of Pant.
"I think what the world has seen Rishabh do at 23 is just the tip of the iceberg. We have always adopted a holistic approach to all our business verticals and we will continue to do that for ‘Brand Rishabh’ through this relationship. He truly is a special talent and we are confident that he has all the ingredients to become a global sporting icon," CEO of JSW Sports, Mustafa Ghouse, had said.
The role of leading the JSW-GMR Group owned Delhi Capitals is now another feather in Pant's cap. It has enhanced the image of 'Brand Rishabh' even further and simultaneously, Pant's growing brand value will help Delhi Capitals in increasing their global popularity and reputation even further.
‘Captain’ Pant Helps Maintaining Continuity
While appointing their skipper for this season, continuity is an important factor the management had to look at. With the mega auction slated to take place ahead of the IPL 2022 season, Pant will be the first name they will be looking to retain.
Looking at his current form, the significant amount of international experience under his belt, and his six-year association with the franchise, it seemed like a logical decision to hand over the leadership role to Pant.
None of the other experienced names in Ashwin, Rahane, Smith or even Shikhar Dhawan are certain to be retained. Hence, it makes complete sense on their part to develop Pant as a leader, along with Shreyas Iyer, as they will be part of the core group of players that will be retained ahead of the mega auction next year.
Appointment Helps Ponting Maintain Team Philosophy
Since Ricky Ponting took over as Delhi Capitals' head coach in 2018, he has tried to instil his beliefs and ways in each and every member of the squad. He is someone who likes to be in control.
The former Australian skipper pushes young players to the fore to help them develop their skills and build their confidence. But, he also plays a major role in the background. He likes to call the shots from behind and let the youngsters enjoy the glory.
Ponting’s methods have delivered results as well. During his time with the Mumbai Indians, he dropped himself from the first team and elevated a young Rohit Sharma to the role of leadership. The rest is history.
After coming to the Capitals as well, Iyer was appointed as captain midway into the 2018 season. The Capitals are yet to win a title but they made it to the playoffs in 2019, and were the finalists last year as well, before losing to eventual champions Mumbai Indians.
With Iyer unavailable, Pant is just the right candidate who will give Ponting the freedom to mould the team in the way he wants. The case would have been different with an experienced player at the helm, as they could obviously have had their own set of ideas and approach to leading a team.
That could have given rise to internal conflicts and wouldn't have been good for the team as a whole.
There are no visible downsides to this move at the moment. But the Delhi Capitals think-tank needs to ensure that this responsibility doesn't become a burden for Pant and it shouldn't go on to have a negative impact on his batting.
Keeping leadership aside, they need to make it clear to Pant that they are giving him the same freedom to express himself as a batsman that he used to get before accepting this role.
The last IPL season wasn't easy for him. His numbers – 343 runs at a strike-rate of 113.95 – were a far cry from what his statistics read in each of the four seasons before. He looked totally out of rhythm at that point.
However, he was seen in sensational form in the recently concluded ODI series against England. Pant amassed 155 runs in the two innings he batted, at an excellent average of 77.50 and an outstanding strike-rate of 151.96. That includes his best ODI score of 78 in the series decider – that came at a time when India had lost their first four wickets cheaply.
Such a performance shows the kind of form he is in and the amount of self-confidence he has. Pant will be looking to carry that forward into the upcoming season of the IPL.
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