New Delhi [India], March 25 (ANI): Delhi Capitals skipper Ricky Ponting said on Friday that wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained in a horrific car accident last year, is the "heart and soul" of the team and that the team could wear his shirt number on their shirts and caps.
The DC head coach spoke at a team event in the national capital.
"In an ideal world for me, he would be sitting next to me in the dugout every match. But if that is not possible, we would like to make him part of the team in ways possible. We can have his number on our shirts or on caps. Just to make it clear that he is our leader, even if he is not with us,'" Ponting said to media at the event.
"Pant is a huge loss and it does not matter who we bring in and we are still going to miss him. I am not going to joke or try and gloss over that fact and he is one of the best players in the world in all three formats," added Ponting.
Delhi Capitals has David Warner as the stand-in skipper in absence of Pant this season. They also have England international Phil Salt as a frontline option for wicketkeeping. They are also readying makeshift options like Manish Pandey and Sarfaraz Khan. They have also called for uncapped wicketkeepers Luvnith Sisodia, Sheldon Jackson, Abishek Porel and Vivek Singh to their training camp and one of them could be signed as a replacement.
Ponting admits that no matter who comes, it will be difficult to find someone offering as much quality as Pant.
"Sarfaraz Khan, Yash Dhull can easily slot into the middle-order. Lalit Yadav played some games last year and Aman Khan has been ultra impressive. In the last couple of days' training, he has been very special. We have Rovman Powell, even Axar's batting has improved a lot so we will try and find a cover for Rishabh. You are not going to get the same quality but we think we can have a middle-order as good as any other team," added Ponting.
Pant has played 98 matches for DC, having scored 2,838 runs at an average of 34.61 at a strike rate of 147.97. He has scored one century and 15 half-centuries.
The IPL 2023 will kick off from March 31 onwards with a match between defending champions Gujarat Titans and four-time champions Chennai Super Kings.
Delhi Capitals will kickstart their IPL campaign against Lucknow Super Giants from April 1 onwards.
DC will play their first home game against Gujarat Titans on April 4 at Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi.
In the previous season, Delhi Capitals had finished in the fifth position in the points table with seven wins and an equal number of losses with a total of 14 points. They narrowly missed out on a playoff spot.
Delhi Capitals on Thursday announced David Warner as captain for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.
Warner steps in as skipper for Rishabh Pant, who is currently undergoing rehab and recovery.
Meanwhile, all-rounder Axar Patel was been named the team's Vice Captain. The franchise also announced former India captain Sourav Ganguly as the franchise's Director of Cricket. Ganguly has been associated with Delhi Capitals in the past too, in the role of mentor, during the 2019 season.
This will be the second time Warner leads the Capitals. In his previous stint with the franchise from 2009 and 2013, he led the side in a couple of matches. The opener was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014 and in 2016, he led the side to their maiden title.
In terms of matches won, Warner is the fifth joint-most successful skipper. He has won 35 out of 69 matches as a captain, lost 32 and tied two matches.
Delhi Capitals squad strength: 25 players (Overseas 8)Players bought: Ishant Sharma (INR 50 lakh), Phil Salt (INR 2 crore), Mukesh Kumar (INR 5.5 crore), Manish Pandey (INR 2.4 crore), Rilee Rossouw (INR 4.60 crore).
Players retained - Rishabh Pant (C), David Warner, Prithvi Shaw, Ripal Patel, Rovman Powell, Sarfaraz Khan, Yash Dhull, Mitchell Marsh, Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel, Anrich Nortje, Chetan Sakariya, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Khaleel Ahmed, Lungi Ngidi, Mustafizur Rahman, Aman Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Praveen Dubey, Vicky Ostwal. (ANI)