Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Rishabh Pant is set to return to action for Delhi Capitals, that too as captain, in IPL 2024. ESPNcricinfo understands that the franchise expects Pant, who missed the 2023 season after suffering serious injuries in a car crash in December 2022, to be fully fit by the end of February.
It could not be confirmed, however, if Pant will return as a wicketkeeper-batter, his usual role, or as a specialist batter. But the franchise is understood to be happy to have Pant as captain and batter.
The first hint of Pant possibly making an IPL return came in November, when he attended a Capitals camp in Kolkata, which was also attended by senior franchise support staff including Sourav Ganguly (director of cricket), Ricky Ponting (head coach), and Pravin Amre (assistant coach). Subsequently, Pant took part in the discussions around the retention and release of players ahead of the next auction, scheduled for December 19 in Dubai, as well as the drafting of an initial auction plan.
Pant was ruled out of playing any cricket in 2023 after all three key ligaments in his right knee were torn in the car crash. Since then, Pant has undergone successful reconstructive surgeries to the ligaments and has been doing his rehab at the BCCI's National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. In recent months, he has posted videos suggesting that his recovery has been going to plan.
While he has resumed batting, it could not be confirmed whether he has been keeping wickets.
There has been no official update on Pant from the BCCI since July, when it said he had made "significant progress in his rehabilitation and has commenced batting as well as keeping in the nets".
If Pant is cleared by the NCA by February next year, as the franchise expects, the IPL will be the first tournament he will play since featuring in the Bangladesh tour in late 2022. In Pant's absence last season, Capitals had appointed David Warner as interim captain. They finished second from bottom, with five wins and nine defeats in 14 league games.