IPL 2023 is set to begin on March 31 with Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans facing each other in the opening game. Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant will not be able to play this year's IPL due to an injury. David Warner has been named as the captain but the question of who will take Pant's place as wicketkeeper has been raised. Team Head coach Ricky Ponting has also listed the names of some players who can replace Pant in the upcoming edition of the tournament.
Pant, who survived a horrific car crash last December, is out for an indefinite period and Ponting spoke about how his absence will impact the team.
"Pant is a huge loss and it doesn't matter who we bring in as we are still going to miss Rishabh. I am not going to joke or try and gloss over that fact and he is one of the best players in the world in three formats of the game," Ponting said.
"He (Pant) is ranked in the top five among Test batsmen in the world and obviously our leader and has been our No.4 batter in middle-order and finisher for us and replacing him is going to be pretty much impossible," the former Australian skipper added.
Aman Hakim Khan has caught Ponting's attention and he gave his assessment of the young all-rounder.
"Aman Khan has really impressed us and we traded Shardul (Thakur) with KKR to get him in he has been ultra-impressive and I don't know how much you have seen of him and his last couple of days at training have been pretty special,"
However, he agreed that it will take multiple players to bring that power-hitting impact in the middle order so that Pant's absence is covered.
"So when we are talking about losing some power in middle-order, Aman Khan, Rovman Powell and someone like Axar Patel, whose batting has improved a lot in last 12 months, we will find ways to cover for Rishabh but we will not get same quality player," he added.
Talking about the opening duo, Ponting confirmed that skipper Warner will surely open the innings for the team.
"I don't want Warner to bat at No.4. H has been one of the most successful openers in IPL history. I think we saw the games he played for DC last year.
"He was our leading run-scorer and the number of games that he won with his own batting. And he is such a competitive guy, who is going at top of the order and you know he can take the game on and skillful, experienced and he is our leader," Ponting said.
Ponting further added that Mitchell Marsh will be a top-order batter for DC.
"He will be a top-order batter/all-rounder for us. I think he is coming into the tournament in the best form I have seen him in and he has got three-four months to rest in Australia and recovered from ankle surgery he had in November," Ponting said.
"He has not bowled in games yet but he has been bowling for the past 5-6 weeks and his role in this team will be to bowl some overs as well and he knows that and understand that."
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