Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith feels that Rishabh Pant promoting himself to number three in the batting order may be the path Delhi Capitals should look at in their future matches of IPL 2022.
In their six-wicket loss to Lucknow Super Giants on Thursday, Pant struggled to get going as he made just eight runs in 19 balls.
Pant finally made a connection with the ball in his innings when he lofted leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi through extra cover on final ball of 15th over. He then carted pacer Andrew Tye for four and two sixes in the 16th over. But Jason Holder and Avesh Khan tied him down with yorkers and slower balls as Pant ended unbeaten at 39 off 36 balls for Delhi to post a below-par 149/3 in 20 overs.
"Rishabh has got starts in every game, but everyone needs to be patient. The strike rate hasn't quite happened but everyone needs to be patient. Today DC needed to rebuild after losing a couple of wickets but true, the strong finish never came. They needed to get to a total of 170-180," Smith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.
Asked whether Delhi should continue with Pant at four, Smith had a different take. "Maybe the way forward is to promote Rishabh. Get him up to No.3 and take the pressure off him and give him more time. Maybe this way he'll be able to set the tone and not think too much."
Pant, Delhi's captain, is yet to notch up big scores in IPL 2022 while his wicketkeeping contemporaries, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and Dinesh Karthik have produced impactful performances. Smith, who won the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008 with Rajasthan Royals, thinks that an indifferent start to Pant's form in IPL 2022 won't have any bearing on his spot in the Indian team for Men's T20 World Cup in Australia later in the year.
"I can't see Rishabh Pant missing out despite the likes of Samson, DK and Kishan doing well. Ultimately it will come down to combinations. Who gets picked will depend on the conditions, who they are coming up against. Pant has to be there. You can't leave out Pant. He is going to play all formats for India for a very long time. He's going to be a superstar."
Smith pointed out that apart from Prithvi Shaw's 61 off 34 balls, no other Delhi batter stepped up to keep a flying start in the power-play going in the middle overs.
"It was a one man show (Prithvi Shaw). Sarfaraz and Pant had to recover from a couple of quick wickets. But in the end, it was only Prithvi Shaw that dominated the game from a DC perspective. After the powerplay, you thought they were on course for 200, but no one else got going. It was bizarre. Good night for Shaw individually, but Delhi would be disappointed. It was a disappointing batting performance."