Team Delhi have announced Rishabh Pant as their new captain for their Indian T20 League 2021 season, which begins on April 9.

The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman steps in for Shreyas Iyer, who hurt his left shoulder in the recently concluded India-England ODI series and was subsequently ruled out of the 14th edition.

Speaking on the appointment of the new captain, Delhi’s chairman & co-owner Kiran Kumar Grandhi stated that the team rose to newer heights under Iyer’s captaincy and he will be missed. But, he also said that (Pant’s appointment) is a tremendous opportunity for him to grow further.

Iyer, who will undergo surgery on April 8, congratulated Pant for his new role. “I had no doubt that Rishabh would be the best man for the job. He has all my good wishes to make amazing things happen with our absolutely incredible team. I’m going to miss the team tremendously, and will be cheering for them throughout.”

On being given a new role, Pant said he was humbled by the team owners’ decision and it was a dream come true. "Delhi is where I grew up, and where my IPL journey began six years ago. To lead this team one day is a dream I've always harboured. And today, as that dream comes true, I feel humbled."

Head coach Ricky Ponting, who arrived in India on Monday, has shone praise on Pant while also commenting on the team’s growth under Iyer’s leadership. “The previous two seasons under Shreyas’ leadership have been incredible, and the results speak for themselves.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for young Rishabh, who is coming off successful stints against Australia and England which will no doubt give him the confidence needed to take on a new role that comes with a lot more responsibility.,” Ponting added.

Rishabh Pant has been a mainstay for Delhi since 2016, and has stacked 2079 runs in just 68 games at an average and strike rate of 35.23 and 151.97 respectively. While he has notched 12 half-centuries so far, his only century (128* off 63 balls) in the 2018 edition against Hyderabad was the highest individual score for an Indian in the competition until Punjab’s KL Rahul broke the record in 2020.

While it will be Rishabh Pant’s maiden role as a captain in the Indian T20 League, the decision went in his favour owing to his performances in the Test series against Australia - an unbeaten 89 helped India secure a historic win at the Gabba - and the back-to-back half-centuries in the final two ODIs against England.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam