Dhawan impressed by Pant's calmness on captaincy debut, says he's only going to get better

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Mumbai, Apr 11 (PTI) Delhi Capitals experienced opener Shikhar Dhawan was mighty impressed with Rishabh Pant's leadership qualities, saying the youngster led the team in a calm and composed manner in his first match as captain and will only get better with time.

Pant was thrust into captaincy after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer sustained a shoulder injury during the recent ODI series against England and was ruled out of the tournament.

The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman made a memorable start to his captaincy stint as he led DC to a convincing seven-wicket win over three-time champions Chennai Super Kings in their opening match of the IPL 2021 here on Saturday.

'He (Rishabh Pant) did quite well. First of all, glad that he won the toss. It was a bit of a sticky wicket, so it was good for us to bat second. He kept his calm and kept on motivating the boys,' Dhawan said during the post-match press conference.

'He made good changes as well. It was his first match (as captain), so I am sure it is only going to get refined from here. He has just started and with experience, I am sure, he is only going to get better.

'The best thing about Rishabh Pant is that he stays calm. His presence of mind is quite there, which is very very good.' Asked if he gives his advice to Pant as a senior player, Dhawan said: '...of course, I give my advice to him. The youngsters, whenever they come to me to ask for batting tips or mindset things, I always share my knowledge with them.' Dhawan smashed a 54-ball 85 studded with 10 fours and two maximums and alongwith Prithvi Shaw (72) shared a 138-run opening stand as Delhi chased down 189 with eight balls to spare.

Asked about his sweep shots against the pacers, Dhawan said: 'I started practising it at the nets and then introduced it in the game. We have to play according to the field set. I knew Chennai keeps square leg and fine leg inside the 30-yard circle and keep covers behind for me.

'I knew their bowling plans, that they will bowl more yorkers to me. So just tried to use their pace and put the ball over the square leg.' Dhawan was dropped after the first T20I against England in the recent-concluded series but made a comeback in the ODIs, scoring 98 and 67 in the first and third games.

Asked if he had made changes in his approach, Dhawan said: 'There is no change in my approach or anything. I have been playing like this for a long time now. If you have watched me batting last IPL or even before that I have batted with a good strike-rate.

'I am happy how I am going, been much more consistent and of course I will look to improve where ever I can and I am enjoying my game.

'I'm refining my skills and playing aggressive cricket and I will continue with this mindset and you will see me playing with the same way and this version of the game demands that,' he added.

The 35-year-old said the team will look to carry the momentum in the coming matches.

'I am happy it was a good performance. It was a good start for us, the whole team did well, Prithvi batted well and bowlers bowled well. Now we have to keep refining it and maintain it, that is the aim,' he said.

Delhi will next play Rajasthan Royals on April 15 in Mumbai. PTI ATK SSC SSC