Rishabh Pant will continue as Delhi Capitals' captain for the rest of the 2021 season despite regular captain Shreyas Iyer having returned from a shoulder injury.
Pant had been named captain after Iyer was ruled out having dislocated his shoulder while on India duty in March. The injury was expected to keep him out of the entire IPL 2021 but then Covid-19 intervened and forced a postponement mid-way into the season in early May.
Capitals confirmed the development in a statement on Thursday evening, three days out from the resumption of the 2021 edition of the tournament in the UAE. At the time of Pant's promotion from vice-captain to captain, he had no previous experience captaining in the IPL. Still, Capitals finished the India leg of the tournament on top of the points table, with six wins in eight games.
Head coach Ricky Ponting had said earlier in the day that it was important for the team to start fresh in the UAE. "It doesn't matter what we've done in the first half of the season. It's been four months since when we played some really good cricket, so we really have to start again.
"Our performance in the first half of the tournament was because of how well we played and how hard we worked, but I don't think we played our best cricket [yet]."
Ponting said it was a boost for the team to have Iyer back. "He has got an infectious attitude. I have been talking to him a lot and his training has been great. He's so keen to get back into the field, score runs and win. He's a world-class player and he's going to add a lot to our team, there's no doubt about that."
Iyer had taken over the captaincy midway through IPL 2018, after a slump in form triggered the end of Gautam Gambhir's stint in charge of what was then Delhi Daredevils. Back then, both Iyer and Pant were in contention to be named captain, before Iyer, then 23, took charge. He went on to lead the side to the playoffs in 2019 and the final in 2020, which they lost to Mumbai Indians. Iyer had played a key role with the bat as well in 2020, finishing in fourth place on the batting charts.
Incidentally, Pant too was 23 when appointed captain, becoming the fifth-youngest IPL captain after Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Suresh Raina and Iyer.