BCCI, NCA Follow Patient Approach on Rishabh Pant, Focus on “Complete Fitness”

Written by Rohit Pawar

When his teammates were playing bilateral fixtures, IPL 2023, WTC Final, Asia Cup and ODI World Cup, Rishabh Pant was taking baby steps on the road to regaining match fitness under the watchful eyes of the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. From entering the NCA on crutches to speeding along on the recovery curve, Pant has covered a lot of ground and is very likely to be match fit around the 2024 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Those tracking his progress closely reveal the ankle and knee engagement – the most important part of his recovery regime since he is a wicketkeeper – are on point and the sit-up drills behind the stumps have been very encouraging.

“Pant’s recovery has been on point, in fact better than expected. The concern was how the knee and ankle would react after the injury. Especially the knee after ligament tears and surgeries. Both ankle and knee engagement has been on point and that was a big positive considering they are going to bear a lot of load during wicketkeeping. The load on the body will be gradually increased now and running at 100% intensity is likely to begin from next week,” says a source close to developments.

For the past few weeks, the 26-year-old has been doing afternoon sessions under the watch of specialists at the NCA. The drill generally begins around 3 pm with running at “80-90% intensity” and is followed by release sessions with the physio.

“As I said, running – ground and on the treadmill – has begun but it’s not high intensity yet. Say 80-90% but not full intensity yet. There are sessions on the spin bike too but right now it’s more about getting the body ready for those pressure tests – high intensity training and match simulations. So lifting and muscle work has also begun to add strength. He has started compound exercises, the ones which work on multiple muscle groups at the same time, and lot of attention is being paid to lower-body strength and conditioning,” informs a well-placed source.

The NCA is very pleased with Pant’s progress and there could well be a possibility of the youngster becoming match ready sometime during the England Test series. Even if that happens, the signs of which are very encouraging, it’s unlikely that both BCCI and NCA would use the longest format for his return.

The Indian cricket board is likely to exercise a lot of patience and caution with Pant. Something which they successfully did during long injury layoffs of Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.

“Don’t be surprised if Pant becomes ready around the England Tests. But even if he does, the NCA is likely to use the shortest format to ease him back into action. Just like they did with Bumrah who first played T20Is vs Ireland before playing the 50-over format. The manner in which both NCA and BCCI handled Pandya and Bumrah, similar approach will be followed with Pant. The bigger picture and complete fitness of Pant is important. So IPL looks like a viable option for now,” adds the source.

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Rohit Pawar

An Independent I.T. Security Expert, Geek, Blogger & Passionate Programmer.