It was after arriving at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi for India’s practice session on Wednesday that Rishabh Pant first come to know that he would get to lead India for the first time and that too on his home ground. KL Rahul, India’s designated captain for the five-match T20I series against South Africa was unfortunately ruled out with a right groin injury, prompting the selectors to elevate Pant – who was the vice-captain – as the captain for the next five matches. The left-handed wicketkeeper-batter said he was yet to “digest” the fact that he us getting to lead Team India in about 24 hours’ time but promised to put his best foot forward.
Also Read: ‘Something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life’ – Rishabh Pant reveals the ‘best moment’ of his career thus far
“I haven’t been able to digest it yet. I got to know just an hour ago,” Pant said with a big smile in the pre-match press conference.
“It is a very good feeling; it did not come under very good circumstances but at the same time I am feeling happy. I would like to thank the BCCI for giving me this opportunity to lead the Indian side. I will try to make the most out of it. Thank you to all my well-wishers for supporting me in my journey through the thick and thin of my cricketing career. I will look to make it a base and keep improving and keep making my life better and better each and every day,” he added.
Pant of course is no rookie when it comes to captaining in big stages. He has been leading the Delhi Capitals for the last two IPL seasons and before that, he had led Delhi in Ranji Trophy. The attacking left-hander said the experience of captaining an IPL side will help him a lot.
“I think as a captain, it will help me a lot (leading in the IPL) because when you are doing the same thing again and again, you improve. I am someone who keeps learning from his mistakes and I think it will help me in the coming days,” he added.
For the last 6-8 months, Pant was being groomed as a future leader and the 24-year-old cricketer wants to work on that goal keeping the T20 World Cup in mind which is set to take place in October-November in Australia.
“As a team, we have thought about certain goals we want to achieve as a team. In the end, we have the World Cup at the back of our heads and we are preparing for that. In the coming days, you will see there will be changes and how we play cricket I guess,” he added.
Apart from Rahul, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav was also ruled out of the series. Kuldeep got hit on the right arm during a net session on Tuesday. The selectors, however, did not name any replacement for the injured duo.