In the second encounter Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, Rishabh Pant’s Delhi Capitals (DC) will take on MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for a spicy beginning to their campaign at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Pant will be leading the side in the absence of regular skipper Shreyas Iyer, who is undergoing injury rehabilitation, while MS Dhoni will return to the cricket field for the first time since the last IPL where CSK had failed to make it to the playoffs.
While there would be a lot of sub-plots waiting to be explored, major eyeballs will be on how Ricky Ponting uses Steven Smith in the line-up, considering the kind of season the Aussie had with Rajasthan Royals (RR) last year. In an exclusive face-off between legendary Brian Lara and Criclytics, Cricket.com’s AI-driven Prediction platform, the southpaw suggested that he was not quite convinced how much value Smith would add to the squad.
“Steve Smith is tried and tested at Rajasthan Royals. He fit in there really well. But I am not 100% sure if he is a T20 batsman. He is a great batsman and got leadership qualities but in terms of the actual game, I found him wanting in a lot of areas. Maybe Ricky Ponting thinks he needed someone to solidify the middle or top-order, but I am not sure if he is a great buy,” Lara, who will be sharing his expert views and predictions on Cricket.com throughout the IPL, said.
Following his exploits in Australia and in the home series against England, Pant became the darling of the masses. Despite having an indifferent IPL, the way he has molded himself tells a story in itself and that has kept Lara interested as the Trinidadian believes Pant is definitely a player to look forward to.
“The way Rishabh Pant performed in the Test series against Australia and England were tremendous to see. IPL is a different format altogether He is a more responsible cricketer now. He has got the flair and excitement - definitely one player to look forward to this IPL.”
While MS Dhoni suffered the worst season of his career - both with the bat and as a leader - he has been practicing for the last two months to get into the groove. Lara stated that Dhoni needs to create a lot of match-winners around him to compliment his style of batting in the IPL 2021.
“He is pretty much the think-tank of CSK. He makes a lot of decisions alongside Stephen Fleming. But it is important to understand that he is going down on age. What he could’ve done in years gone by, he can’t do anymore. He has to try and create a lot of match-winners around him who can take that pressure away from him. He is working too hard, but we have seen him coming out triumphant on many occasions. He can do that once again.”