Rishabh Pant: Need to play good cricket in the final

When Delhi last won the Ranji Trophy in 2007 - under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir - its current skipper Rishabh Pant was only 10 years old. Now, Pant will be leading out Gautam Gambhir in the Ranji Trophy final against Vidarbha.

Rishab Pant Delhi Ranji Trophy 2017

At 20, Rishabh Pant has captained Delhi to the final of the Ranji Trophy since 2007.   -  V Raju

 

It has been a season of surprise for Delhi. When the Ranji Trophy got underway, not many had thought that the iconic team would reach the finals, shunning all odds.

But under the leadership of a young Rishabh Pant, the team has come of age and has reigned supreme in the tournament so far—storming into the final, beating Bengal.

What is more interesting is the fact that the last time Delhi won the final in 2007—under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir— beating Uttar Pradesh, its present captain was just 10-year-old.

Perhaps, that’s why Pant is all the more excited about playing his first Ranji Trophy final and chasing the dreams. But ahead of the summit clash against Vidarbha in Indore, the Delhi skipper believes that keeping things simple and backing each other have worked wonders for his side.

In a chat with Sportstar, Pant gets candid about what has worked for his team so far, and what to expect in the final, which begins at the Holkar Stadium in Indore from December 29.

The excerpts…

This has been a season to remember for Delhi. As its young skipper, how would you rate the journey so far?

I see this is an opportunity that the DDCA has given me. The whole team is doing well. A captain is not for himself but for the whole team. When the team does well, then only a captain’s work is talked about. The only way to recognise a captain is how his team does. Everyone is supporting me well with their contributions. The top-order, middle-order, the bowlers—they all are doing well. That’s a very good sign, and is very satisfying as a captain.

You were chosen as the captain after Ishant Sharma left for national duty. Despite being one of the junior most members of the team, you have led the side brilliantly. What has been your strategy of dealing with the seniors like Gautam Gambhir?

I have played for Delhi in the past, so everyone knows me. They know how I deal with situations. Gautam bhaiya is always there to support me. He always tells me that ‘you take your decision and I will back you’. If I need any suggestion, I make it a point to consult with him, and often ask him: ‘bhaiya, kya karun batao, thoda help kar do’ (Brother, please tell me what to do? Help me a little…). He has helped me out in every way, and has supported me whenever I need. That’s helping me a lot to do my job well.

This final is between two teams, which were never the favourites. How do you see this?

That’s the beauty of the game, no?

With Vidarbha playing some firebrand cricket, what are your plans ahead of the final?

Our main plan is to only focus on our game. We know one thing that all we need to do is play good and fearless cricket. We are not focusing on other teams or not thinking who’s doing what. Even if Karnataka would have made it to the final, we would have not seen them like any (superior) side. We would just play our game well and it does not matter what the result is. At the end of the day, whosoever will play good cricket will win the match.

Last season, Delhi’s on field performances were often marred by off the field issues. This time, there have not been any such untoward incidents. Looking back, what do you think, are the things that have worked well for your side?

We just keep things simple. We don’t complicate things and take unnecessary pressure. Another important factor is that we back each other. That is working out for the team, I guess. Because backing each other is the biggest thing in cricket. Everyone is happy for each other, and that makes our team more powerful.