Delhi Capitals eager to draw first blood in opening encounter

New Delhi: As captain Rishabh Pant prepares to begin Delhi Capitals’ 2024 IPL campaign against Punjab Kings on Saturday afternoon, he is expecting the kind of enthusiastic welcome from the crowd that one usually gets for someone like MS Dhoni or Virat Kohli.

After undergoing a long road of rehabilitation from various injuries sustained in a fatal car accident in December 2022, the determined Pant’s much-awaited return to competitive cricket and captaincy has inspired and delighted millions of cricket fans across the world. The spectators will have the full blessing and privilege of watching Pant in action at the league (IPL) venue on Saturday.

In visuals from the Capitals’ pre-season camp in Visakhapatnam, Pant can be seen confidently practicing various shots, including the reverse sweep, which shows that he is getting back into his groove. He also appeared to be in his usual happy disposition with a bright smile on his face, which bodes well for him easily adapting to the rigorous demands of playing cricket.

How Pant fares after a 14-month-long layoff remains to be seen. Apart from this, DC also sees the reunion of Ricky Bhui, Tristan Stubbs, Kumar Kushagra, Jake Fraser-McGurk as well as power-packed batting trio David Warner, Prithvi Shaw and Mitchell Marsh.  And Sumit Kumar is capable of scoring big runs for a franchise that struggled to click as a batting unit last year.

The presence of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav ensures that DC is well-equipped in the spin department. But the area that will be his concern is fast bowling. Lungi Ngidi has been ruled out of the competition, while there is not much information on the fitness of Jhye Richardson due to a left side strain problem since January.

Anrich Nortje is making a comeback after a long injury layoff with a stress fracture in his back and recently returned to action through the CSA T20 Challenge. The experienced Ishant Sharma is lacking match practice after playing domestic cricket sporadically, which means the onus is on Khaleel Ahmed and Mukesh Kumar to carry the pace bowling load for DC.

PBKS, on the other hand, have included Harshal Patel, Riley Rossouw and Chris Woakes, the trio is expected to perform well. They will also be looking for all-round contributions from players like Sam Curran, Rishi Dhawan and Sikandar Raza.

Harshal and Vidwath Kawarappa provided more strength to PBKS’s Indian bowling contingent featuring Arshdeep Singh, Rahul Chahar and Harpreet Brar. In batting, they have the services of Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma, Atharva Tayde, Prabhsimran Singh and captain Shikhar Dhawan, but they still have a notable gap in the absence of Indian middle-order batsmen.

So far, the Indian Premier League has not been affected by the return of any individual player to the game. On Saturday, enthusiastic fans will fill the atmosphere at Mullanpur, which has shown a tendency to favor batting in home matches, as they come together to cheer Pant’s incredible comeback and witness the beginning of a new chapter in his cricket.


Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (captain), Prithvi Shaw, David Warner, Kuldeep Yadav, Khalil Ahmed, Axar Patel, Mukesh Kumar, Mitchell Marsh, Anrich Nortje, Praveen Dubey, Vicky Ostwal, Abhishek Porel, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Lalit Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Yash Dhull, Tristan Stubbs, Ricky Bhui, Kumar Kushagra, Rasikh Dar, Jhay Richardson, Sumit Kumar, Shai Hope and Swastik Chhikara.

Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Jitesh Sharma, Jonny Bairstow, Prabhsimran Singh, Liam Livingstone, Matthew Short, Harpreet Bhatia, Atharva Taide, Rishi Dhawan, Sam Curran, Sikandar Raza, Shivam Singh, Harpreet Brar, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada. , Nathan Ellis, Rahul Chahar, Gurnoor Brar, Vidwath Kawarappa, Harshal Patel, Chris Woakes, Ashutosh Sharma, Shashank Singh, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Tanay Thiagarajan, Prince Choudhary, Riley Rossouw.

The match will start at 3:30 PM on Star Sports (TV) and JioCinema (mobile).

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