Rishabh Pant an exceptional talent, a good thinker of the game: Ricky Ponting

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He may have received a lot of flak for sloppy glove work behind the stumps and playing unconventional, bordering irresponsible, shots with the bat at times but former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting believes that Rishabh Pant has a good head on his shoulders and could be India’s second wicketkeeper in the World Cup along with MS Dhoni.

Ponting spent a lot of time with Pant during the last IPL season and has seen the youngster becoming India’s X-factor in all formats.

“Rishabh Pant is not only an exceptional talent but also a real good thinker about the game. He has got a really mature head on his shoulders while on the field and probably a little immature off it with some of the things he does. But, he is a fun-loving, young character. I think he is a very mature and a good a leader too. He understands the game and the situations really well,” Ponting told India Today in an interview.

With 684 runs from 14 games, Pant was IPL 2018’s second highest run-getter, only behind Kane Williamson. This included one hundred and five half-centuries. Name, jerseys, ownership has changed – Delhi Daredevils is now Delhi Capitals – but head coach Ponting is expecting the same form from the 21-year-old this season as well.

“I would love to have him the same season he had last year. I think he scored over 650 runs last year and was the leading run-scorer. I would like that to happen again. You just have to make sure that with the guys like Shreyas (Iyer), Prithvi (Shaw), Rishabh, and even Shikhar (Dhawan) to a certain degree, that they are not thinking too far ahead about the World Cup, are fully invested in playing well for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, giving us a chance to win the tournament. That is what we will be talking to them in the next couple of weeks before our first game,” said Ponting.

Exciting times for Delhi Capitals: Ponting

The transition, hopes the team management, will also bring in some change in the fortunes of the team which has failed to win the tournament even once since it was started in 2008. The Delhi team had, in fact, a terrible run last season, finishing at the bottom of the points table in the eight-team edition.

“Let’s hope it is a change of fortune, certainly from last year. Everything does feel new, fresh and exciting. Obviously, we have got new ownership, new clothing, new branding and a new squad of players. So it is really exciting times to be around Delhi Capitals right now. I think we have done a really good job at the auction table, put a real, solid group of players together. Now it is up to me and the other coaching staff to get the best out of them. These are exciting times, we have our overseas boys arriving every day leading up to the first game,” says a beaming Ponting.

Ponting on Iyer’s captaincy and Ganguly’s advisor role

Shreays Iyer, handed captaincy midway through the last season, impressed everyone with his leadership skills and the team’s coach thinks the Mumbai lad will do a good job once again this time around while captaining the Capitals.

“Look Shreyas did a really job last season, having been a young guy thrust into the position of captaining in the IPL. It wasn’t an easy thing for him but he handled it really well. He has been captaining Mumbai and also India A during the last 12 months. He will be a lot better for that. He is a terrific young boy, exceptional talent and has had a really good domestic season coming into the IPL. I hope he will be one of the leading run-scorers again this year and hopefully his captaincy stands up under pressure.”

With former India skipper Sourav Ganguly joining the team in an advisor’s role, Ponting thinks that things will only get better for the Delhi team this season.

“Sourav and I have always got along really well. He is pretty close to us now as an advisor. He was with us for the first practice session and will be travelling along with the team too. His knowledge and experience around our team will be a really good thing for us. I am looking forward to working with him.”

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