Ponting wants Pant to be around Delhi Capitals team during IPL 2023
"If he's actually able to travel and be around the team, then I want him sitting beside me in the dugout every day of the week"
Rishabh Pant may be ruled out from playing in the upcoming IPL 2023, but Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting thinks the team's official captain still has a role to play. Ponting wants Pant to be around the team during the season, if he has recovered well enough.
"I want him sitting beside me in the dugout every day of the week," Ponting told the ICC review. "If he's actually not physically fit enough to play, we'd still love to have him around.
"He's the sort of cultural leader around the group, being the captain, and that attitude and infectious smile and laugh he has is what we all love so much about him.
"I'll certainly be making sure, come the middle of March when we get together in Delhi and start our camps and stuff, if he's able to be there, then I want him around the whole time."
Pant suffered injuries in a car crash on December 30 and is expected to be out of action for most of 2023. He tore three key ligaments in his knee, two of which were reconstructed on January 7, while surgery on the third is expected in February.
Ponting also said that Capitals were searching for a wicketkeeper-batter to replace Pant, but stressed on how difficult that search could be.
Who can replace Pant?
At the December auction for IPL 2023, Capitals bought five players but no wicketkeeper. The only other full-time wicketkeeping option in their side is England's Phil Salt, who is currently donning the gloves for Pretoria Capitals in SA20 in South Africa. Among Indians, Sarfaraz Khan has been a part-time wicketkeeper for Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
"You can't replace those guys, simple as that," Ponting said. "They don't grow on trees, players like that. We've got to look at - and we already are - a replacement to come into the squad."
With the Pant-Ponting combination at the helm, Capitals finished fifth in IPL 2022 and lost in the second Qualifier in 2021. In 2020 they registered their best finish by being runners-up when Shreyas Iyer was captain. The 2023 edition is expected to start in March end - after the inaugural edition of the women's IPL - and will run through the months of April and May.