Wily Yuzvendra Chahal dismisses comeback man Rishabh Pant

Coming in to bat at number four after the fall of Ricky Bhui in the fourth over, Rishabh Pant started his innings with a booming square cut off Rajasthan Royals pacer Nandre Burger but his next four deliveries were dot balls. Pant tried his best to break the shackles against Chahal, hitting IPL’s all-time leading wicket-taker for a six in his first over but the Delhi Capitals captain’s innings never quite took off.

Sensing a jailbreak shot from Pant, Chahal bowled a flatter delivery outside off stump. He went on the back foot to cut it but got an inside edge to keeper Sanju Samson. Earlier, the southpaw scored 18 (13) in his comeback game, against Punjab Kings, while also dusting the cobwebs with a stumping and a sharp catch with the gloves.

Pant met a life-threatening accident on December 30, 2022 that had kept him away from the game since. Slowly, the wicketkeeper-batter returned to low-key fitness routines and has even been spotted at India’s matches in the last few months.

While Pant is bullish about featuring all season, head coach Ricky Ponting tempered his expectations and reckoned that managing him for 10 of the 14 games would feel like a bonus for a side that missed his services dearly last year.

Delhi Capitals won just five of their 14 games and narrowly avoided the wooden spoon in IPL 2023, but Ponting is building up to this year’s edition with a sense of optimism, which is in no small measure fuelled by Pant’s comeback.