How Rishabh Pant scripted a miraculous comeback

Pant was involved in a horrifying car crash in 2022

rishabh-pant-comeback-pti Delhi Capitals skipper Rishabh Pant during a practice session ahead of the IPL 2024 match against Punjab Kings, in Visakhapatnam | PTI

The medical staff who nursed Rishabh Pant back to full fitness after the horrifying car crash in 2022 has raved about the resilience and mental strength shown by the cricketer, saying he persevered through a "frustrating" recovery process.

Pant is set for his cricketing return in the IPL on March 23 when he will captain Delhi Capitals against Punjab Kings in Mohali.

"I feel very close to normal," Pant told '' with a radiant smile.

It seemed far fetched 15 months ago when he suffered multiple injuries in the crash. However, it has come true thanks to the expert care he got from the likes of Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala, Director, Centre for Sports Medicine, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai, and some dedicated staff at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.

Pardiwala remembered how arduous Pant's recovery journey was.

"As surgeons and as doctors, it's very important for us to inform our patients, their family and all the stakeholders of the actual status of the injury. Rishabh's mother was with him. She was very concerned whether he would ever be able to walk again," Pardiwala said.

"I told her that 'this is such a critical injury and we will definitely aim for him to get back to competitive cricket. But that's going to be a long-drawn process'."

However, Pardiwala was left astonished when he saw Pant's confidence as he entered the recovery phase.

"When I told Rishabh 18 months, he said 'okay, I am going to show you I can do it in 12 months'," he said.

Pant stayed true to his words as he put in the hard yards at the NCA during his recuperation.

"When I started walking without crutches, that was a high point. Then started jogging a little bit, that was a high for me, then started batting, then started keeping as I took joy in everything," said the 26-year-old.

But each of those baby steps had to be taken with utmost care because of multi-level complexities.

Pardiwala said the complex knee injury, the trauma following the accident and Pant's own frustration at being away from the cricket field had to be dealt with in an effective manner.

"For any surgeon, knee dislocation is one of the worst injuries because everything breaks. You need to get back the stability, you need to get back the shock absorption capability," he said.

"For any trauma, there is a period of shock and there is always an aspect of mental health. On a particular day, you are perfectly normal, you are a superstar and you are celebrated across the world.

"But a week later, you can't do what a normal person does. That's when the frustration sets in. So, that was a difficult period for Rishabh. We had to support him through that phase."

Dhananjay Kaushik, the NCA physiotherapist, said Pant came to him with a dilapidated knee after the accident, but he too was amazed at Pant's positive attitude.

"None of the ligaments (on Pant's injured right knee) were spared during that accident. ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament), a part of the quadriceps, you name it and he did not have it.

"I think if there is anyone who could make a comeback, it is Rishabh Pant, with the attitude he has got," said Kaushik.

Nishanta Bordoloi, the strength and conditioning coach at NCA, said the whole episode left Pant a transformed human being.

"It has made him a better human being. He is now respecting life, as a whole, more. It has just made him more resilient and stronger. He was a very good human being, he has become an even better human being now," said Bordoloi.

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