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Ponting on Porel: The moment I laid eyes on him, I knew he was a very special talent

The DC head coach also called Jake Fraser-McGurk one of the "standout powerplay batsmen" of IPL 2024 along with Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma

Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has lavished praise on Abishek Porel, the left-hand batter who has sparkled in multiple roles during IPL 2024, and indicated that he will don the keeping gloves against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) on Sunday in the absence of the suspended Rishabh Pant. Capitals signed Porel in 2023 as a replacement for Pant, who missed the entire season after sustaining multiple injuries in a car crash, and Ponting has predicted that the Bengal keeper-batter has "a really bright future".
Porel has scored 267 runs in ten innings this season at a strike rate of 157.98. He began the campaign batting at No. 9 against Punjab Kings, coming in as an Impact Player and smacking an unbeaten 32 off just ten balls. Since then, he has been promoted to a top-four role, and in DC's last game against Rajasthan Royals, he opened the batting and put on 60 in just 4.2 overs with Jake Fraser-McGurk. Porel went on to score 65 off 36, his first IPL half-century, studded with seven fours and three sixes.
"I've seen extreme growth in Abishek Porel in this IPL," Ponting said in Bengaluru ahead of the match against RCB. "In fact, looking back to the start of last season, obviously [with] Rishabh's accident, we needed to bring in some wicketkeepers into our squad after the auction. We tried a lot of guys, a lot of guys that played, more senior guys than Porel, but the moment that I laid eyes on him, I knew that he was a very special talent.
"I think, what we've seen in the last half a dozen games in particular, that talent's really starting to shine through. He's starting to work out what IPL cricket is all about. He's had a couple of different roles as well. In the first game of the season for us, he came in as a No. 9 batsman, Impact Player, and made [32] off ten balls there, and now we see him opening the batting and he's got better and better every game.
"I've got huge raps on him. I think he's a very, very good young player, obviously we'll probably get to see him with the keeping gloves on tomorrow as well, with Rishabh not being there. And then we'll work out, when we finalise our team, with the batting order and stuff, but I'll be surprised if he's not at the top of the order again, because he has played really well, and he's someone that I think has got a really bright future."
Porel has hit 31 fours so far this season, the joint-most for DC along with Pant, even though he has scored only 267 runs to Pant's 413. Until this IPL season, he had played just four games in the tournament - all in 2023 - scoring 33 runs at a strike rate of 106.45. He was among the retained players for DC coming into this IPL.

'Fraser-McGurk among the standout powerplay batsmen this IPL with Head and Abhishek'

Ponting also hailed Jake Fraser-McGurk, the swashbuckling 22-year-old batter who has taken this IPL by storm, but didn't find a place in the Australia squad for the T20 World Cup next month. Fraser-McGurk himself had said he felt he hadn't earned a place in the final 15-member squad.
Fraser-McGurk was picked by DC as a replacement player just before IPL 2024, after fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was ruled out. Fraser-McGurk has since then, in many ways, reset the T20 batting template in the powerplay, just like Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma have while batting for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season. Fraser-McGurk has scored his 309 runs while striking at 235.87 and averaging 44.14, with the help of four half-centuries. That strike rate is even better than Abhishek's 205.64 and Head's 201.89.
"I don't think Jake expected to get picked in the first place," Ponting said of his absence from the T20 World Cup squad. "It was only a few weeks ago that he turned up here as a replacement player, and probably the furthest thing from his mind was actually getting a chance to be in that World Cup squad. It's just been how electrifying he's been in this IPL. Some of the things he's done - I think he's made three 20-ball fifties in this tournament, so he along with Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma have been the stand-out powerplay batsmen in this entire tournament.
"I saw some quotes from him the day that the squad was announced or the day after - he wasn't surprised that he wasn't in the squad, he wasn't disappointed at not being there. I'm sure he would have liked to have been in it, but I think he would have been more surprised to be named than left out. He's focused now, like all of us, he's making sure that we're ready to go tomorrow. For us, it's not about what happened yesterday, it's about what we can do today to get better, and then make sure that we're ready to play our best game of cricket tomorrow."