Rishabh Pant's presence at IPL 2024 auction raises hopes of return to action

Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman working towards comeback after horror car accident

Wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant makes a bid for Delhi Capitals during the IPL 2024 auction at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. Sportzpics for IPL
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The IPL 2024 auction was expected to grab headlines, and it did not disappoint as Australia’s World Cup winners Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins landed the biggest contracts in the history of the tournament.

Since it was a mini-auction on Tuesday, only a handful of players were expected to get picked up as teams were more keen on filling any gaps in their established squads.

And as much as the spotlight was on the star names and the millions they earned, one player was at the centre of it all, even if from the other side of the fence.

Delhi Capitals and India wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant took part in the auction, taking over around midway and doing the player bidding himself – an unusual sight for an active player and designated captain.

But the presence of Pant in Dubai was more than symbolic. The star wicketkeeper batsman has been on the sidelines since being involved in a major car accident in December 2022. Now, there are signs that Pant will return to competitive cricket soon, and possibly in IPL 2024.

Before the auction started, the 26-year-old talked about his accident and the long road to recovery. “I am feeling much better than I was a few months ago. Still on recovery to 100 per cent, but in a few months’ time I will be able to do it,” he told Delhi Capitals.

For Pant, the time away from cricket was difficult. The dynamic keeper was missed not only at Delhi Capitals but also for India, where in his absence the national team head a near-perfect run at the ODI World Cup on home soil, before losing to Australia in the final.

However, the keeper said the support he received from fans made up for the pain.

“Yes it was a hard time, but at least I got to know that people love and respect me, especially the kind of concern that they showed. It means a lot and helped a lot in recovery,” he added.

Pant’s participation in the Dubai auction on Tuesday, therefore, was of importance. According to reports, Pant is working his way towards match fitness, having undergone knee ligament surgery and he is also said to be on track to lead Delhi, who are confident he will be fit again by February.

He was an active participant during the bidding war for Mitchell Starc, keeping Delhi in the race until the price crossed 100 million rupees, before it turned into a slugfest between Gujarat and Kolkata.

Updated: December 19, 2023, 2:00 PM