Since his international debut in 2017, Pant has gone through various phases – some good, some not so much. What has been heartening to see though is that he has stayed true to his natural attacking style of play with the bat. He has also of course received tremendous support from everyone he has been involved with – both at the India and the IPL levels. Most people realised pretty early on that Pant is a s[special talent and they decided to back him to the hilt.
With time, Pant has managed to cement his place in the national team, across formats as a playing XI regular.
Former Australian cricketer Shane Watson, who at one time was recognised as one of the best all-rounders in international cricket will now get to see Pant up close and personal at the Delhi Capitals IPL camp.
Having joined the Delhi Capitals as their new assistant coach, under compatriot and former teammate Ricky Ponting (Head Coach), Watson is excited to work with Pant, who also happens to be the DC captain.
Shane Watson (BCCI/IPL Photo)
Watson feels Pant has matured with age and that he can continue to hone his leadership skills under the guidance of two-time World Cup-winning captain Ricky Ponting. The Pant-led Delhi Capitals will open their campaign on March 27 (Wednesday) against Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
Delhi Capitals finished on top of the table in IPL 2021 after the league stage. They then lost Qualifier 1 to CSK and Qualifier 2 to KKR.
In the 2020 season, Delhi entered the final, but lost in the summit clash to Mumbai Indians by 5 wickets.
The Delhi franchise’s quest for that elusive IPL title continues.
“All I can see in Rishabh is that he can only continue to get better. He can continue to learn from his experiences. For him to get an opportunity to be a leader and learn from Ricky (Ponting). Ricky was one of the best captains I played with. His ability to lead a team, and how to get the best out of people around him was awesome,” Watson told TimesofIndia.com during a media interaction organised by the Delhi Capitals.
For quite some time now a common refrain has been to ask if Pant can truly be a worthy successor to MS Dhoni.
“Rishabh has certainly got the best person around him who can help to get the best out of him as a leader. So, in the end, what Rishabh can do is to be the best version of himself and let the public and media continue to compare him to the great MS Dhoni at their own peril. But all that matters for Rishabh and Delhi Capitals is that he brings the best version of himself as a player and leader,” the former Australian allrounder further said.
Watson, who played three seasons with CSK under Dhoni’s captaincy (2018, 2019, and 2020) – feels the two wicket-keeper batsmen have a few similarities but are very different people and cricketers overall.
Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni (BCCI/IPL Photo)
Pant also plays an attacking style of cricket, just like Dhoni did when he first started off. And like Dhoni in his initial days, Pant too has had to work very hard on his glovework – which is still in many ways a work in progress.
“It is one of the things people, in general, want to compare apples with apples. Every individual is different. Every individual has got their own skill set and abilities. Rishabh and Dhoni are very different cricketers and they are different people. They both have got incredible skills. Rishabh is a leader. He is very cool, calm, and collected. He is just like Dhoni in these qualities,” Watson told TimesofIndia.com
“The skill that Rishabh Pant has – such a young man, at 24-years-old to do what he’s been able to do in the infancy of his cricketing career, it seems he has been around for a long time,” the 40 year old Watson, who was part of the 2007 and 2015 Australian ODI World Cup winning teams further said.
‘SHANE WARNE – AN INCREDIBLE LEADER’
Watson was also part of the Rajasthan Royals team that won the inaugural IPL season in 2008, under the leadership of Shane Warne. The Royals defeated Chennai Super Kings by 3 wickets to win the coveted trophy in the first season, in a final that went down to the last ball.
Warne, a magician with the ball and the king of leg-spin, took 708 wickets in 145 Tests in an illustrious career spanning 15 years. The news of his death of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52 recently sent shockwaves across the international cricketing fraternity.
Watson, who was adjudged Player of the Tournament for his brilliant all-around show in the 2008 IPL – 472 runs in 15 matches at an average of 47.20 and 17 wickets, hailed the late Shane Warne.
Shane Watson and Shane Warne (BCCI/IPL Photo)
“There are some great memories from the 2008 IPL season. That was a new tournament and with the competition starting and bringing the world of cricket together. It was a special event to be a part of. The thing that stood out for me was that Rajasthan were written off because we didn’t have big names as compared to the other teams. The advantage that Rajasthan had was the ability to pull the team together very quickly. The one thing Shane Warne and Jeremy Snape, who was in the support staff, did was that they brought the Rajasthan Royals team together very quickly,” he said.
“The incredible skill that Shane Warne had was seeing what people’s roles were and then tapping into that role. For me, that was why Warne was an incredible leader because he knew how to tap into a player’s best version. He believed in the players, knew their skill set and where they fit in. For me, that’s why Rajasthan did so well in the first season. His ability was to pull these players from different places and motivate them quicker than other teams. He was the one taking decisions as to who was going to fit in where. Warne pulled all these players together and led from the front. It is a very special memory to be a part of that team and that too in the first season,” Watson signed off.