Ahead of IPL auction, Ponting praises Pant’s unorthodox batting style

Ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) mega auction on February 12-13, Delhi Capitals head coach Australian great Ricky Ponting has praised the wicket-keeper of the Rishabh Pant team, saying it was hard to pinpoint him as a player or character.

While opinion is divided over the 24-year-old cricketer’s aggressive and sometimes unorthodox striking style, Ponting says Pant is a dynamic and fun-loving player.

Ahead of the IPL mega auction, the Delhi Capitals decided to retain Pant, Axar Patel, opening hitter Prithvi Shaw and South African speedy Anrich Nortje.

“It’s a bit difficult to put your finger on him (Pant) as a player or a character,” said Ponting, who worked closely with Pant during his time coaching the Delhi Capitals on Friday. Pant captained the Delhi Capitals through to the playoffs in his first season in the role in 2021.

“What you see with his cricket is exactly what he is off the pitch. He is fun-loving and energetic. He’s not really a guy who takes risks off the pitch; it’s always a fun guy to be around. He’s always laughing out loud and you always know when he’s in the room. You know when he’s playing cards or when he’s about to walk into the team meeting,” said the great Aussie at ICC.

“If you think about those things, he’s exactly what he is on the pitch. You’ve heard him behind the stumps; we’ve all heard him behind the stumps, the way he talks constantly throughout the Then we saw what he does with the bat, be it T20 cricket, 50-over cricket or some of his amazing shots in Test cricket.

Ponting said he would never want to curb or restrict the way Pant plays his cricket.

“It’s just him and you never want to try to curb or reduce that. He will learn and work it out on his own. I tell a lot of guys around Delhi capitals with him that you take the right with the bad, because if you try to reduce the good, then he will just become another player. He will just be the same as everyone else. And right now he is different from most, so we give him as much rope he needs and let him go play.”

Ponting also praised Pant’s captaincy, adding that he was extremely pleased with the wicket-striker’s work ethic.

“Last year he led the team really well,” Ponting said. “We obviously had a disappointing end to our IPL campaign last year, but I think with him at the helm again this year it will make him a better leader and make us a stronger franchise. I can’t wait to come back and work with him again.

“Every time I come to practice he’s always the first one I look forward to because I can always do stuff with his stick and he’ll also pick me up for a bit of advice on different things, around of his leadership or his I loved every moment of working with him,” Ponting said.

Comparisons between Pant and Australian great Adam Gilchrist, a former wicketkeeper, are inevitable given that the two have similar roles, albeit at different times. Having shared locker rooms with Pant and Gilchrist, Ponting is in a better position than most to draw those similarities. However, it was prudent to go this route.

“Yeah, (they’re) kinda the same,” Ponting said. “I know Rishabh has really burst onto the scene, but let’s first let him play his 50-60 Test matches before we start drawing comparisons to one of the greatest hitters of all time. But if you think about their personalities – Rishabh is much more outgoing, much louder, much louder and ultra-competitive Gilly was also ultra-competitive, but much more quiet and reserved, until he had his bat in hand and ‘he becomes exactly the same as Rishabh,’ Ponting added.

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