Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting (left) and then skipper Rishabh Pant share a laugh in an Indian Premier League match against Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium on March 27, 2022. Pic/BCCI
Ahead of the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL), the build-up for Delhi Capitals has been absolutely dominated by the absence of their maverick captain, batsman and wicketkeeper in Rishabh Pant.
As Pant continues his long road to recovery from multiple injuries sustained in a horrific car accident on December 30, 2022, head coach Ricky Ponting was crystal clear in stating that the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter will be the heart and soul of the team even if he*s not with the team.
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"I haven*t met him in person yet. But I have spoken to Rishabh quite a few times in the last few months. I am also trying to give him his own time and space as he*s in a very, very difficult time right now.
"We want to try and involve as much of him around the Delhi Capitals. In an ideal world for me, he*d be sitting next to me in the dugout every match. But if that*s not possible, we*d like to make him part of the team in ways possible," said Ponting on the sidelines of an event on Friday.
"Just to make it clear that he*s our leader, heart and soul of Delhi Capitals, even if he*s not with us," the Delhi Capitals coach said.
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Delhi are yet to announce a replacement for Pant and Ponting revealed a decision on the same will be taken after trial games on March 25 and 28, before going to Lucknow for their first game of the season.
"Replacing him is going to be very much impossible. What we have been trying to do is make sure we have the best young talent available, keep them in set-up and make them better in a couple of years. We have got Sarfaraz [Khan], Yash Dhull, who had terrific domestic seasons and can slot in the middle-order. Lalit Yadav played some games last year. Aman Khan has been impressive," Ponting added.
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