ANI Photo | Delhi Capitals fans have to wait longer for Pant’s return on home turf

The passionate, cricket-loving crowd of Delhi Capitals might have to wait a little longer than expected to witness star wicketkeeper-batter and skipper Rishabh Pant in action, with DC set to play their opening two home matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 away from its home turf–Arun Jaitley Stadium.
The 17th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will start from March 22, with defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) set to clash with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in a South Indian derby at their home arena–MA Chidambaram Stadium.
The schedule till April 7 has been announced as of now, with the remainder to be declared later because of the upcoming Lok Sabha Polls, the dates for which are yet to be notified.
Delhi Capitals will be playing their home fixtures at Vizag on March 31 and April 3 against CSK and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively. Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium will not be available to host the matches just days after hosting the Women’s Premier League final on March 17.
In what will be the first-ever double-header on March 23, Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals will launch their campaign against each other at Mohali while two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will get their campaign underway in Kolkata.
DC’s other fixtures till April 7 include a March 28 match against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur and against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai on April 7.
While Rishabh Pant, the franchise’s skipper will be returning to action, it is not clear yet if the explosive southpaw will don the keeping gloves and take the leadership mantle as well.
Pant has begun a series of match-simulation exercises in Bengaluru as he looks to regain fitness ahead of the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), according to ESPNcricinfo.
He is yet to make an appearance after he sustained injuries during a near-fatal car accident in December 2022.
On Tuesday, Pant and Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya, who, too, is recovering from an ankle injury, played a 20-over practice game at the KSCA facility in Alur, Karnataka. Both players were under the supervision of National Cricket Academy physios and trainers.
Pandya and Pant are expected to go through another round of match simulation and conditioning drills on Thursday. According to ESPNcricinfo, Pant didn’t experience any discomfort throughout the 20-over game and the team that monitored him is believed to be satisfied with the left-handed batter’s endurance level. However, Pant did not take the gloves during the practice match.
He also posted a video on Instagram, in which he was taking part in wicketkeeping and mobility drills. This has become a part of Pant’s lower-body conditioning for the past six weeks.
Earlier this month, Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting stated that their star performer Pant was optimistic about his return but the former Australia skipper feels that anything that they get from the 26-year-old will be a bonus for the team.
“Rishabh is very confident that he is going to be right to play. In what capacity we are not quite sure yet. You would have seen all the social-media stuff, he is up and about and running well. But in saying that we are only six weeks away from the first game as well. So we are not sure if we will get wicketkeeping out of him this year,” Ponting said as quoted from ESPNcricinfo.
“But I will guarantee if I asked him now he will say, ‘I am playing every game, I am keeping every game and I am batting at No.4.’ That is just what he is like, but we will keep our fingers crossed. He is such a dynamic player. He is obviously our captain. We missed him incredibly last year. If you understand the journey he has been on the last 12-13 months, it was a horrific incident. One that I know he feels very lucky to have even survived, let alone have the chance to play cricket again,” the DC head coach added.
“We will just keep our fingers crossed and hope that he can be out there and play. Even if it is not all the games, if we can manage him through 10 of the 14 games or whatever that might be then whatever games you can get out of him will be a bonus,” Ponting stated. (ANI)

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