NEW DELHI: Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant produced a wicket-keeping masterclass in Wednesday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) victory against Gujarat Titans to strengthen his claim on a place in India’s T20 World Cup squad.

Pant is playing his first tournament since suffering serious injuries in a car accident in December 2022 that kept him out of last year’s IPL as well as the 50-overs World Cup in India.

The 26-year-old’s batting has not been rusty on his return though and he is Delhi’s leading scorer with 210 runs from seven matches, including two fifties, this season.

His glovework was equally impressive on Wednesday night as he took two catches, including a stunning grab to dismiss David Miller, and produced a couple of stumpings as Delhi bundled out Gujarat for 89.

Pant then made 16 not out as Delhi cruised to the target inside nine overs en route to their third win in seven matches.

Delhi bowling coach James Hopes said they sorely missed Pant’s neat keeping and explosive batting last season.

“Last year, we tried really hard to cover that gap,” he added. “But it is very hard to cover a world-class wicket-keeper, if not the best wicket-keeper/batsman in the world, when he’s going on.

“Now that he is back, you can see everything about his game, his keeping, his captaincy …”

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen was also impressed by Pant’s agility behind the stumps, and tipped him to play at the T20 World Cup in June.

“His mobility tonight was something that will give him great encouragement, which will also encourage Team India,” Pietersen told Star Sports.

“Of course, he needs game time, as everyone does when coming back from an injury. He’s returning from a horrific injury, so game time is crucial for him.

“To prepare for the T20 World Cup, he should play these 1415 IPL games because it’s significant leading into a T20 World Cup.

“If he plays that much cricket, he will be ready.”

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2024

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