The last time Delhi won a Ranji Trophy title, Rishabh Pant was just 10 years old. Back then, he had no idea what it took to play cricket at the highest level, neither did he know that ten years later, he would be leading Delhi to another Ranji Trophy final.
But on Thursday, when the 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, dressed in a red tee, walked into the Holkar Stadium for the training session, he had dreams in his eyes. “I want to take the trophy back to Delhi,” he said, with a smile.
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When the tournament got underway two months ago, not many had thought that Delhi would eventually make it to the final, and would lock horns with another buoyant side, Vidharbha — which is also out to create history in its Ranji Trophy final debut. “To be honest, I am not thinking anything. We are just focusing on playing good cricket,” Pant said.
While he sounded confident, Pant made it a point to sweat it out at the nets for a good 20 minutes. After all, on personal front, this has not been quite a favourable outing for him. In six outings, he managed to amass 262 runs — with his best being 99 against Maharashtra. But Pant is not willing to think too much about it. “There are ups and downs in cricket. My target is to win the trophy for the team. Whenever I am going into the ground, I am trying my best,” he said.
Even though, he struggled with the bat, Pant has been able to make his presence felt behind the stumps. “Standing behind the wicket, you can see everything — what the bowler is doing and how the match pans out. It is good to have a wicketkeeper captain because he can manage the game easily,” Pant stated.
Ranji Trophy Final: Delhi’s road to title clash
While he dreams of taking the trophy back to Delhi, Pant does not want to rate his opponents. “We are not focusing on opposition. Our bowlers and batsmen are doing well, that’s it,” he said, quickly adding: “It is a big opportunity to play any final. This is my second season as the captain, and I will try my level best.”
Delhi has not been able to qualify for the finals for a while, and Pant admits that this time around, the focus was not too keep it for late. “For the last couple of years, we could not qualify for just two or three points. This time, we made it a point to not make mistakes. We did not keep it till the end to reach the final,” he said.
As Pant spoke, the confidence was showing on his face, and the 20-year-old credits Ashish Nehra for backing him. “I am trying to learn, and improve every time. Gautam bhaiya and other seniors are there to support me. From outside, Ashish bhaiya has supported me. He is the main supporter,” Pant said.
Pant would be hoping to make the most of the conditions, which is likely to help the batsmen and also offer bounce. It has been a long wait for Delhi, and it would be hoping to break the jinx.
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