Indian leg-spinner Piyush Chawla has backed under-fire Delhi Capitals (DC) captain Rishabh Pant to continue as the franchise’s skipper for the next Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Admitting that the keeper-batter made a few mistakes, he pointed out that the 24-year-old is still relatively new to leadership and is still learning the tricks of the trade.
Pant was heavily criticized over his leadership in DC’s must-win encounter over the Mumbai Indians (MI) in the franchise’s last league match. He dropped a skier of Dewald Brevis at a key juncture in the match.
Significantly, he refused to go for DRS against Tim David after a caught behind appeal was turned down. Replays showed the Mumbai batter had nicked the first ball he had faced. Riding on his luck, David clubbed 34 in 11 balls as MI went on to defeat DC by five wickets, thus knocking them out of IPL 2022.
Despite some negative reviews over Pant’s leadership, Chawla opined that DC should stick with him as captain. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, he said:
“Pant is young and is still learning as a captain. Mistakes happen. Not only Rishabh Pant, any captain can make mistakes. He is one for the future and I am sure he will learn with time and experience. He is a street smart-cricketer, who will only improve as he keeps leading.”
Delhi narrowly missed out on qualifying for the IPL 2022 playoffs. They finished fifth in the points table after the league stage, winning seven and losing an equal number of matches.
“Don’t think captaincy impacts his batting in any way” – Chawla on Pant’s poor numbers with the bat
Some critics feel that the additional responsibility of leading the team has been affecting Pant’s batting. However, Chawla doesn’t agree with the observation. According to him, captain or not, the southpaw will only bat one way. He elaborated:
“I don’t think captaincy impacts his batting in any way. If the ball is there to be hit, even if it is the first ball he is facing, he will go after it. I don’t think captaincy had anything to do with his batting performance in this IPL. I wouldn’t even say that his form was bad. He was batting well and playing those impressive cameos, but couldn’t convert those into big knocks. I would like to see him leading Delhi again next year.”
The aggressive keeper-batter scored 340 runs in 14 IPL 2022 matches at an average of 30.91 and a strike rate of 151.79. He failed to score a half-century and ended the season with a highest score of 44.