Rishabh Pant and his ascension to captaincy

Delhi selection committee chairman Atul Wassan says they wanted to back the guy they trusted; the likes of Gautam Gambhir in the team may bring the best out of the wicketkeeper/batsman.

Pant, who started his season last year with a triple century against Maharashtra, has been fighting over-expectations from his critics and admirers.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

 

Rishabh Pant’s elevation to Delhi’s captaincy is a process the state selectors had set in last year when he was asked to lead the team in the Vijay Hazare one-day league.

With Ishant Sharma unavailable for Delhi’s remaining Ranji Trophy campaign this season, Pant was the man to fall back on for the selectors. Ishant will be busy with the Indian team for the Test series against Sri Lanka, which begins at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata from November 16.

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Ishant had inspired Delhi’s victories against Railways and Uttar Pradesh after the draw against Assam in the first match. The decision of the national selectors to pick a 16-member squad even for a home series meant Delhi would lose Ishant; at a crucial stage, when it travels to Bengaluru for the next fixture, followed by home outing against Maharashtra.

Pant, who started his season last year with a triple century against Maharashtra, has been fighting over-expectations from his critics and admirers. Just 20, he is learning the early lessons in an intense field where competition grows with every outing.

For his coach Tarak Sinha, the responsibility would mean paying extra attention to the left-handed batsman. “His focus has not been shaken. I know he wants to take the big steps in the big league but people will have to be patient. They must differentiate the difference between a batsman throwing his wicket or getting out to a good ball. Rishabh has not been throwing his wicket,” said Sinha, amidst exaggerated analysis of Pant’s approach to batting.

The left-hander, who is described as a compulsive stroke player by many, is not averse to adapt. He has the backing of a selection committee which is convinced he is just an innings away to once again start playing to his potential.

Read: Punting on Pant — a gamble worth taking

According to Delhi selection committee chairman Atul Wassan, the left-hander is the right choice. “We have to develop someone for the role. Someone we think will serve long and command his place in he team. We felt Rishabh had done well last year and we had to back the guy we had trusted.”

Wassan noted, “This is his test.” Stepping into Ishant’s shoes as a captain and leading a senior like Gautam Gambhir. “Maybe the responsibility will bring the best out of Rishabh. We know Gautam is there to guide him. I am sure Rishabh will learn from the seniors in the team.”

The selectors have picked Akash Sudan and Lalit Yadav in place of Ishant and Pulkit Narang for the forthcoming matches.