Shikhar Dhawan showered praise on Rishabh Pant the captain and asserted that, apart from being tactically astute, it is the youngster’s tendency to stay perennially calm that makes him a very good leader. Pant, on his debut as IPL captain, bettered his master as DC pummelled CSK by seven wickets.
Saturday’s encounter between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals marked the much-anticipated captaincy debut of Rishabh Pant, and the wicket-keeper batsman passed his first test with flying colours as his Capitals side registered a thumping win over the three-time champions. Winning the toss and bowling first, Delhi jolted CSK early with a double-strike, but despite the duo of Suresh Raina and Moeen Ali threatening to take the game away, Pant kept his calm to ensure that the Super Kings did not bat his side out of the game. Despite having no first-choice seamers at his disposal, the 23-year-old marshalled his troops to perfection in what was a fine captaincy debut.
Over the years, few have seen Pant as closely as Shikhar Dhawan, and speaking post the CSK encounter, the veteran southpaw expressed delight over how Pant fared on Saturday and described the 23-year-old’s calmness as one of his biggest strengths as leader.
“He did quite well. First of all glad that he won the toss (chuckles). It was a sticky wicket so it was good for us to bat second and yes, he kept his calm and he kept on motivating the boys,” Dhawan said in the press conference on Saturday.
“He made good changes as well, it’s his first match so I’m sure he’s going to get better from here. He’ll get better with experience. The best thing is that he stays calm, and his presence of mind is there.”
Barring Pant’s captaincy debut, Saturday’s encounter saw Dhawan pick up from right where he left off in 2020 as the 35-year-old plundered a ruthless 54-ball 85 to pocket the Man of the Match award and down the Super Kings. Dhawan said that he enjoyed his batting but insisted that his approach was not ‘new’, pointing to his prolific 2020 campaign where he also scored at a strike rate of 144.73.
“There is no change in my approach. I’ve been playing like this for a long time now. If you’ve watched me play in the last IPL or even the one before that, I’ve been batting with a good strike rate. I’m happy with the way I’m going, I’m much more consistent now, and of course I’ll look to improve whenever I can. I’m very happy and I’m enjoying my game,” Dhawan said.
“It was important to get off to a good start because we were chasing a big total. I have to innovate a few shots and I enjoy taking up challenges. I was playing the ball close to the body. The wicket was a little sticky. I knew my game plan.”
Dhawan pocketed the Man of the Match award, but the ‘show-stealer of the day’ title belonged to young Prithvi Shaw who turned his fortunes in the competition around with a stunning 38-ball 72. In a knock that comprised 9 fours and 3 towering sixes, Shaw torched the CSK bowlers to let the world know that he’d arrived. Dhawan lavished praise on Shaw, who he described as a ‘tremendous player to watch’.
“Prithvi was batting really well. He carried on with his form from Vijay Hazare. It is tremendous to watch Prithvi. He played some effortless shots. So good and so happy for him as he didn't have a good IPL last time around,” Dhawan said of Shaw.
Dhawan and Delhi Capitals will next lock horns with Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai on Thursday, April 15.