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IPL 2021: The rise of Rishabh Pant - emerging from the shadow of MS Dhoni to carving his name in history 

Rishabh Pant in action for the Indian team.
Rishabh Pant in action for the Indian team.
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 03 May 2021
Feature

Cricket has a way of producing inspiring tales of success, with numerous instances in the history of world cricket showcasing the undying passion of the players to carve a niche for themselves in the international arena. And the story of Rishabh Pant is no different. At the tender age of 23, the youngster has faced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The past year has been one of the most whirlwind phases in his life.

After being touted as the successor to MS Dhoni after the ICC World Cup in 2019, the career graph of this young kid saw a steady decline. Despite the backing of skipper Virat Kolhi and the team management, Pant failed to cement his spot in the Indian team.

The turning point

A match-winning knock in the final test match at the Gabba.
A match-winning knock in the final test match at the Gabba.

One of the turning points in his short international career will undoubtedly be the tour Down Under. With a string of low scores and issues with his fitness in the last edition of the Indian Premier League, Pant was dropped from the Indian squad in the white-ball format of the game. However, as the famous saying goes, what doesn't break you will only make you stronger, and Rishabh Pant scripted an incredible comeback on the world stage in the all-important Test series.

After a gloomy start to the tour, the sun was finally shining on the youngster in the southern hemisphere. In hindsight, the experience served him as a wake-up call as he graduated from being a carefree cricketer to being one of the mainstays of the team in the longest format of the game.

Helm of affairs for the Delhi Capitals

Rishabh Pant in action for the Delhi Capitals.
Rishabh Pant in action for the Delhi Capitals.

Consistent performances for the Indian team and the unfortunate injury to Shreyas Iyer opened the door for Rishabh Pant to lead the Delhi Capitals in the 2021 edition of the league.

Delhi is not just a place, but an emotion for Rishabh Pant as he grew up playing all his age-group cricket for the state side before making it into India Under 19 team. The Delhi Capitals have shown immense faith in his ability and have helped him elevate from a rookie to a match-winner in the side.

When daydreams become reality

Rishabh Pant leading the Delhi Capitals against CSK. Picture Credits - IPL
Rishabh Pant leading the Delhi Capitals against CSK. Picture Credits - IPL

10th April 2021 will arguably go down as one of the most defining moments in the career of Rishabh Pant. From being in the shadow of MS Dhoni through the initial phase of his career to walking out for the toss with the man himself, the youngster has had quite a journey.

Such is the beauty of this league that cricket fans all across the globe witnessed two generations of Indian wicketkeepers in distinct stages of their careers, enthralling millions of people.

A move that could possibly serve Indian cricket well

While the role of captaining the side has been relatively new for Pant, this responsibility has unlocked a new side to his ever-evolving game. The swashbuckling player is shouldering the bulk of the responsibility of the side by coming in at crucial junctures of the game. More often than not, Pant has taken the team through to the finish line.

The whole conundrum revolving over handing over the captaincy, however, opened up after a heartbreaking loss to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in DC's last encounter.

On a night where nothing seemed to be going right for Rishabh Pant, his decision to hand the ball over to Marcus Stonis in the final over of the innings cost the Capitals 23 runs.

To make things a little worse for Pant, the southpaw failed to score 14 runs off the last six deliveries to take his side through. With two well-set batsmen batting in the middle, it was appalling for the fans to see the Capitals go down by a run.

The sedate approach by this youngster in the run chase, combined with his lack of experience in the vital stages of the game, compelled cricket experts to question the additional burden on the shoulders of Pant due to captaincy.

However, in hindsight, if you look at the current situation, this experience of leading the side will only serve him and Indian cricket well. It will not only improve his awareness of the situations during the game but he will also learn to take up more responsibility for the national side.

Despite the agonizing loss against the Challengers, Pant inspired a spirited comeback for the Capitals in the subsequent encounter against the Knight Riders.

And as he set foot at the iconic stadium in Ahmedabad against the Knight Riders; all eyes were on the youngster. With meticulous planning and some impressive changes in the field, the Delhi boys managed to stifle the opposition for a below-par total in the first innings and register a comprehensive seven-wicket win.

In the midst of seven league matches, Pant has shown glimpses of learning and evolving through this fast-paced format.The leadership responsibility has added another dynamic to his game, and it will mark a new beginning of great things to follow for him and the Indian team.

Published 03 May 2021
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