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I wasn’t surprised to learn that I was made the captain: Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

When all other kids of his age group are struggling to make their way into the state team, 19 years old Rishabh Pant has been handed over the Delhi captaincy replacing Gautam Gambhir. The teenager has made his mark in the domestic circuit with some exceptional performances and his elevation to the top is just an indication of his impressive performances in the recent past. The southpaw will lead Delhi in the upcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy, a squad which is loaded with national players.

After an impressive showing for the Delhi Daredevils in his IPL debut last year, Pant made his presence felt in his first Ranji Trophy as the swashbuckling left-hander accumulated 972 runs in 8 matches at a staggering average of 81.00. In the process, he also became the 3rd youngest batsman to score a triple ton and also smashed his way to the fastest century in first-class cricket. The record-breaking century of a mere 48 balls came against eventual semi-finalists Jharkhand.

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Courtesy his brilliant showing, Pant earned a maiden call-up to the senior team for the T20Is against England. His debut came against in the 3rd and the decisive encounter in Bangalore. He remained unbeaten on 5 of three balls after coming out to bat very late in the innings. The southpaw is currently preparing for the Inter-Zonal T20 tournament for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy which kicks off at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

In an exclusive conversation with Times of India, Pant said that despite being a teenager he won’t be intimidated to lead a side loaded with seniors. Apart from Gautam Gambhir, Delhi has the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Ashish Nehra who Pant has grown up watching on television.

Also read: Rishabh Pant to replace Gautam Gambhir as Delhi skipper of Vijay Hazare Trophy

“I wasn’t surprised to learn that I was made the captain, but I’m happy about it. I’m ready for this challenge. I think it’s a good opportunity for me. There are so many seniors in the team. I need to learn from them. Gauti bhaiya, Shikhi (Shikhar Dhawan) bhai. I can talk to Ashish Nehra about bowling. It’s good that I’ve got captaincy under them. If I’ve got a problem I can discuss with them. This is a positive for me,” Pant opined.

He is confident about the fact that he has a very good rapport with all “bhaiyas” (seniors) in the team. “I’ve a good equation with Gauti bhaiya. He supports all the youngsters in the team, but I haven’t interacted much with him because I played just after he made a comeback international cricket this season. He was in and out of the Delhi team. We would now get to play together in Vijay Hazare, and I’m looking forward to learning a few things from him. I’ve a good equation with Ashish bhaiya. We’ve played for the same club (Sonnet) in Delhi and then in the Indian team too. He keeps giving me a lot of tips,” he was quoted as saying by TOI.

Pant feels that despite bagging a whopping 1.9 crore contract with the Delhi Daredevils he has hardly got time to remember it for the amount of cricket he has played in the last few days.  “I’m so busy with cricket these days that I don’t get the time to remember all that. I just spend my time and focus my energy on improving my game. Cricket is a sport in which you’ve never performed enough. I’m totally occupied with cricket right now, rather than think about those things,” he said.

Despite being criticised for his wicket-keeping, Pant pointed out that he gives equal time to both batting and keeping and keeps on learning new tricks from his coach and MS Dhoni. “I give equal time to both keeping and batting. I look to learn new things from my coach or Mahi bhai. My wicket-keeping can only improve with practice,” he opined.

Also read: Virat Kohli blows away list of records with his double ton against Bangladesh

When asked which is his favourite shot, Pant said that whichever shot yields him runs is his favourite shot. This statement makes it pretty clear about the uncomplicated mindset of the teenager. “I like any shot which gives me a run. Even an edge which goes for a boundary makes me happy,” he said.

His eventual aim is to represent the national team in Test cricket. The southpaw feels that his coach will take pride in his achievements only when he dons the Indian whites. “Tarak Sir loves to call his student as a Test player. For him, a Test cricketer is a ‘real’ cricketer,” he concluded.

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