Having a vision towards the future, Delhi selectors Nikhil Chopra, Atul Wassan and Robin Singh made this move considering the fact that this would reduce the work load on Gambhir and also enable young Rishabh to learn more about leadership and develop his game.
According to PTI, Chopra said, “Frankly Vijay Hazare is the last tournament of the season and this was an ideal opportunity for us to see who is the best candidate to lead the state side. We were not finding anyone all these years who could replace Gautam.” He further added, “The Hazare Trophy gives us an opportunity to test Rishabh’ s captaincy skills and with Gautam and other seniors around, he will get ample guidance. Obviously Atul has spoken to Gautam and he has been taken into confidence.”
Delhi coach KP Bhaskar said that the move to name Rishabh Pant as the skipper was a, “consensus decision” made with a foresight into the future. In an interview with ESPN Cricinfo, Bhaskar said, “The selectors are looking at the future and they think Rishabh is the right choice.”
He added, “They were thinking that there are four-five seniors in the team who can groom him. All the seniors – Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma – are there, and this is the right opportunity, so looking forward to the future.” The Delhi coach shed some light on former Indian opener Gambhir saying that such a move was made to reduce the former skipper’s workload. He said, “We think Gambhir still has a lot of cricket left in him, so let him concentrate on his batting and get runs for us. Let him have a free mind.”
Pant made his first-class debut for Delhi against Jharkhand in 2015. In the U-19 World Cup in 2016, Pant opened the batting for India and smashed a blistering hundred against Namibia to help India qualify for the semi-finals. This particular innings of his brought him into the spotlight as he was pocketed by the Delhi Daredevils for a whopping 1.9 crore in the Indian Premier League (IPL). In the IPL, he played many crucial knocks which further added to his credentials and made people believe that he had a promising career ahead of him. However, it was the 2016-2017 Ranji Trophy that brought the aggressive left-handed wicketkeeper batsman into the forefront. He scored a scintillating triple ton against Maharashtra and bludgeoned his way to a 48-ball hundred against Jharkhand. He finished as the fourth highest run-getter in the tournament, scoring 972 runs at an average of 81.00 and with a breathtaking strike-rate of 107.
Thanks to his aggression, he was awarded with a maiden call up to the Indian T20 side for the series against England. He did not find a place in the XI for the first two matches but featured in the third game. Although he could make a 5- ball 9 in the decider, when he came out to bat right at the end of the innings, his made his intentions clear with the kind of aggressive temperament he displayed. Touted as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s possible successor, this move of making him lead his side in a domestic competition can do wonders to a talented cricketer like Pant.