As Delhi Capitals gear up to open their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, skipper Rishabh Pant is looking forward to leading the team for the first time and said it will be “extra special to walk out for the toss with MS Dhoni”. “It will be extra special to walk out for the toss with MS Dhoni tomorrow. This will be the first time that I will be leading an IPL team and the first match is against Mahi bhai. I have learned a lot from him, and I have gained a lot of experience from him. Hopefully, I can use this experience against him, and we can win this match. That’s what I am looking forward to,” Pant said in a statement.
Pant added that the Delhi Capitals squad, for the IPL 2021, has a great mix of experience and youth. “I have been talking to the senior players like Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane about the fields we can set and other strategic decisions for the team,” Pant said.
“I have been talking to Ricky (Ponting, the head coach) and our bowling coach James Hopes as well. There’s a good mix of seniors and juniors in our squad and I think with the help of Ricky, we can do something different this year,” he added.
Pant expressed that he is just looking to keep things simple in his first match as skipper in the IPL.
“I haven’t thought about the fact that it’s my first match as captain in the IPL. I am just going to keep things simple and give my 100 per cent. You get a good idea about setting fields as a wicket-keeper and now as captain I will be making the changes in the field directly. So, there’s not going to be much of a difference for me,” said Pant.
Runners-up Delhi Capitals will look to go one up and lift the trophy this time. Speaking ahead of their opening match, head coach Ponting said the team wants to build on last year’s performance and approach the opening game with the “right attitude”.
“The CSK have got a good squad of players and they’ve got lots of flexibility and a lot of options. But we’ve got a great squad as well and we want to build on last season,” Ponting said.
“I have said to the boys that it’s not about last season, but there are a lot of positives that we can take from the way we have played in the last couple of seasons.
“Although we’ve got a slightly different squad, we expect to play better as a group and achieve some better results. So, for us, Chennai Super Kings is just game one.
“We need to approach it with the right attitude and play well. Hopefully, win that game and move on to the second game. But we know that we’ll have to play well to win,” he added.
The former Australia captain added that Suresh Raina, who missed the last season, will make a big difference to the CSK outfit this year.
He said: “The Chennai Super Kings have been one of the most successful teams in the history of the IPL. They have got a great leader and a great squad of players. They have always managed to play consistent cricket.
“Last year, they were probably disappointed with the way their season worked out, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that Suresh Raina wasn’t there for the entire tournament. He comes back to the squad this year, which is almost like a new recruit for them.”
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