Ponting hopes Pant to have ‘huge impact’ in T20 World Cup

Dubai: Former Australia skipper and Delhi Capitals (DC) head coach Ricky Ponting is hopeful of Indian wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant making a “huge impact” in the T20 World Cup at the USA and the West Indies, scheduled to commence on June 1.

Pant made his comeback to competitive cricket after a gap of more than 14 months in the recently-concluded IPL. He not only captained DC in the season but also donned the wicketkeeping gloves despite doubts over his fitness after recovering from multiple injuries sustained in a horrific car crash.

After being named in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup, Ponting said his inclusion was evident following his “remarkable comeback”. The veteran feels Pant will make a significant impact in the T20 showpiece.

“I was asked when I was over there what I thought about him. He’d been picked in the Indian squad, and I basically said he’d be one of the first players picked, and sure enough he was. So, great to see him back out there playing again. I’ve enjoyed every moment of working with him. Obviously, he’s been the captain of the Delhi Capitals, and I’ve been the coach there,” Ponting told The ICC Review.

“But it’s been a remarkable comeback, and hopefully he has a huge impact on this World Cup,” he added.

Pant, who missed the last edition of the IPL due to injuries, scored 446 runs – the highest for the franchise in the edition. He also scored three half-centuries and played with an impressive strike rate of 155.40.

Talking about his comeback, Ponting said it was a ‘spectacular’ show from the 26-year-old and credited the franchise for doing a great job.

“It’s been nothing short of spectacular, to be honest. I spent a few months with him in the middle of the IPL last year, which was only sort of three or four months after his accident. And I had grave fears then that he would never play the game again. What he’d been through psychologically, but what he’d been through physically. At that stage, he still couldn’t walk,” he said.

“He was on crutches. And I remember saying to him, what do you think about next season? He just looked at me and said, don’t worry, I’ll be right. And he’s looked after himself incredibly well. The Delhi Capitals franchise has done a great job looking after him. Patrick Farhart has been his physio. He’s done a great job with him as well,” the three-time ODI World Cup winner added.

Apart from batting, Pant was phenomenal with his glove work behind the stumps, shutting the doubts over his agility following a long injury layoff.

Ponting said everyone was sceptical about his keeping in the tournament for 14 matches in a row but Pant proved them wrong.

“No one had real concerns about his batting, because of how good he is and how dynamic he is with the bat,” Ponting said.

“But with his wicket-keeping, and having to squat every ball for 14 games in a row, there were certainly some concerns there,” he added.

Pant was among the players who landed in New York on Monday ahead of their opening T20 World Cup match against Ireland on June 5 (IST). India are also scheduled to take on Bangladesh in the only warm-up game on June 1.


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