Young Rishabh Pant is determined to keep his focus on helping struggling Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2017 and is unfazed by comparisons with a young Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The 19-year-old Pant made an impression as India U-19 player under Rahul Dravid’s guidance --- the former India skipper is Delhi Daredevils mentor --- and made a splash in domestic cricket. However, Delhi Daredevils’ have suffered four losses on the trot with just two wins to be at the bottom of the points table ahead of Sunday’s clash against Kings XI Punjab.
The BCCI has shown faith in Pant by handing him a central contract while former India captain Sourav Ganguly recently named him in his fantasy IPL team, leaving out MS Dhoni. Pant though wants to stay focused.
“I don’t think much about all the comparisons. My focus has always been playing cricket and doing well. I just need to grab the chances and prove my mettle. IPL is a brilliant platform. We have seen people gaining attention by playing in IPL,” said Pant, who was handed the Delhi captaincy for the Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament.
IPL 10 had started on a bright note for Pant, who braved the death of his father to score a valiant 57 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, the runs haven’t really flowed from the bat of Pant, who has earned comparisons with a younger MS Dhoni. While there was initial talk of taking him to the ICC Champions Trophy, it’s clear Pant needs to be more consistent.
Option as opener
Delhi Daredevils could push the hard-hitting Rishabh Pant to open with Sanju Samson in the match against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali on Sunday.
Samson hit 60 in the last match for Delhi Daredevils against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, but Karun Nair, promoted to partner him, failed once again.
However, Pant said: “My role in the team is to score runs and give my best when on the field. It doesn’t matter at which number I am batting. Right now, my team demands that I finish the games batting in the middle order. The T20 format is tricky, and you have to deliver whether you play in the top order or middle order.”
Pitted against the struggling Kings XI Punjab, floundering Delhi Daredevils will look to start afresh. And pushing Pant up the order may just take the team in that direction.