IPL – Rishabh Pant on his comeback: Feels like I’m going to make my debut again

IPL - Rishabh Pant on his comeback: Feels like I'm going to make my debut again

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Rishabh Pant feels like he is making his debut all over again as he gears up for a comeback to competitive cricket after 14 months. On Tuesday, he was declared fit by the National Cricket Academy (NCA) after undergoing an extensive rehabilitation process following a serious car crash in December 2022.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time. It feels like I’m going to make my debut again,” Pant was quoted as saying in a media release issued by the IPL team that he captains, the Delhi Capitals. The India wicketkeeper is currently part of their pre-season training camp in Visakhapatnam, where they will also play two home games during the first two weeks of the tournament.

“To be able to play cricket again after everything I’ve been through is nothing short of a miracle,” Pant said. “I’m grateful to all my well-wishers and fans, and most importantly, the BCCI and staff at NCA. All their love and support continue to give me immense strength.”

Over the past two months, Pant has built up his workload and has played a series of practice games organised by the NCA in Bengaluru to get into the rigours of competitive cricket. While there were question marks over his involvement as both a wicketkeeper and batter until late last month, the NCA has given him a full fitness clearance.

The option of using Pant as an Impact Player this season made Capitals pick two other wicketkeepers in their squad. Abishek Porel, who was signed as Pant’s replacement last year was retained, while they splurged INR 7.2 crore to acquire Jharkhand gloveman Kumar Kushagra.

“I’m excited to return to Delhi Capitals & the IPL – a tournament I enjoy so much,” Pant said. “Our team owners and support staff have been by my side throughout with their full support, guidance and co-operation at every step, for which I am deeply grateful. I can’t wait to reunite with my DC family and play in front of the fans again.”

On Monday evening, BCCI secretary Jay Shah revealed Pant had been “batting and keeping well” and could be in contention to return to the India squad for the T20 World Cup in June. “If he can play the T20 World Cup for us, that will be a big thing for us. He is a big asset for us,” Shah said. “If he can keep, he can play the World Cup. Let’s see how he does in the IPL.”

With BCCI’s clearance, Pant might return to action as early as March 23, when Capitals open their season with an away fixture against Punjab Kings.

“We’re delighted to welcome Rishabh back to the Delhi Capitals family,” co-owner Parth Jindal said. “The kind of grit and resilience he has displayed in overcoming challenges is inspirational, to say the least. We’re humbled to have been a part of his journey to recovery, which has been exceptional. Rishabh’s return is one of the most highly anticipated ones in recent times, and I can’t wait to see him compete again.”

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