Abishek Porel, Sheldon Jackson among final 3 in Audition 2.0 to replace Rishabh Pant at DC - Sources

The Delhi Capitals finished fifth in IPL 2022 [Credits: IPL]
The Delhi Capitals finished fifth in IPL 2022 [Credits: IPL]

With Rishabh Pant ruled out of IPL 2023, the Delhi Capitals (DC) have zeroed in on three wicketkeeper-batters as his potential replacement, Sportskeeda has reliably learnt. The incumbent skipper is out for a long time after surviving a near-fatal car accident late last year.

While DC have found an able captain in veteran David Warner, they have been left shortchanged in the wicketkeeping department. According to sources, Abishek Porel (Bengal), Luvnith Sisodia (Karnataka) and Sheldon Jackson (Saurashtra) have been summoned for a second round of trials from March 19 in Delhi.

This is a pruning from the initial list of five keeper-bats who attended the first camp in Kolkata on February 25 and 26. Uttar Pradesh’s Aryan Juyal, who was a part of India’s 2018 Under-19 World Cup squad, and Robin Minz from Jharkhand, were the other two in contention.

Southpaws Porel and Sisodia will be like-for-like substitutes, whereas Jackson will be another right-hander among a slew of them in the DC middle order. On the flip side, the 36-year-old comes with tons of experience, which the other two lack. All three bat in the middle, though.

However, if the DC management is to think long-term, it would tilt the scales more in favour of Porel (20) and Sisodia (23). Further, Jackson’s IPL numbers make for grim reading. In nine matches, he has scored just 61 runs at an abysmal average and strike-rate of 10.17 and 107.02, respectively. It also explains why the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) let go of him ahead of the December auction.

Part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) cohort for IPL 2022, Luvnith Sisodia got a first-hand experience of being in the big league and the ensuing pressure. He has represented Karnataka in 15 T20s, including all eight games in the latest Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy. His average of 13.77, though, fails to justify the talent he possesses. He has batted at Nos. 3/4/5 for his state side, and also opens the innings for the Hubli Tigers in KSCA’s Maharaja T20 Trophy.

Abishek Porel’s sample size is even smaller. Making his white-ball debut for Bengal only last season, he has played just three T20s so far. But not only has Sourav Ganguly, DC’s newly-appointed director of cricket, seen him from close quarters, everyone on the Bengal cricket circuit rates the prodigious talent highly.

“He is very good. I have seen him pretty closely and I feel Bengal are wasting him at No. 8 [in first-class cricket]. He should be batting at No. 4/5. I did recommend his name to DC, but I think they are going to drag it as long as possible,” a source in the know of IPL proceedings told Sportskeeda.

His attacking nature has prompted many experts to consider deploying him as a floater, even in FC cricket. Starting off at No. 4, his last T20 match saw him open the innings against Chandigarh.

The Capitals have Phil Salt and Sarfaraz Khan for wicketkeeping duties. But while the latter is a back-up gloveman at best, playing Salt will eat up an overseas slot. For the Pretoria Capitals – DC’s sister franchise – the Englishman recorded the most dismissals (10) in the inaugural SA20.


How has the trio performed in recent matches?

Saurashtra won the 2022/23 Ranji Trophy after beating Bengal by 9 wickets [Credits: Srinjoy Sanyal]
Saurashtra won the 2022/23 Ranji Trophy after beating Bengal by 9 wickets [Credits: Srinjoy Sanyal]

Saurashtra have been dominating Indian domestic cricket of late. And Sheldon Jackson has been an integral part of the success. However, some nitpicking would again bring up his frailties in the shortest format.

In the previous SMAT, the senior pro managed just 156 runs at a timid strike-rate of 115.55. This pales in comparison to his aggregate of 588 runs at an average of 39.20 in their latest Ranji Trophy triumph.

Abishek Porel, who finished runners-up in the elite competition with Bengal, had a mixed outing. After a tepid start, the young turk scored fighting half-centuries in the semi-final and final of the Ranji Trophy. With the gloves, though, there was none better than him. Making some eye-catching grabs, the Chandannagar resident effected the maximum dismissals (40) throughout what was a challenging red-ball campaign.

Earlier in the season, Porel managed just 22 runs in three T20 games and a 54 against the Railways in what was his only List A innings. He has often been guilty of throwing his wicket away, though the Capitals might look at him as a purveyor of a fearless brand of cricket.

Luvnith Sisodia, on the other hand, is yet to play List A and first-class cricket. In five innings last season, the 23-year-old scored just 79 runs at a strike-rate of 121.53.

It can’t be confirmed how long the second camp will run. A final decision on Pant’s replacement is likely to be made before DC fly out to Lucknow for their tournament opener on April 1.


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Edited by Srinjoy Sanyal