IPL: Meet Abhishek Porel, the pocket-sized dynamo of Delhi Capitals

The Bengal keeper-batter’s spark in the powerplays wins him high praise from Ricky Ponting

Emerging star: Abhishek Porel, batter-wicketkeeper from Bengal, playing for Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2024 (Photo: BCCI)
Emerging star: Abhishek Porel, batter-wicketkeeper from Bengal, playing for Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2024 (Photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

When Delhi Capitals signed up Abhishek Porel, a young batter-wicketkeeper from Bengal, last year to cover for the injured Rishabh Pant, it was seen more as a move to cover the bases.

While Sourav Ganguly, the franchise’s Director of Cricket, had done his homework about the obvious talent of the 21-year-old from his home state – it’s a given that a youngster’s journey in the IPL set-up is often fraught with uncertainty.

A year-and-a-half later, the Capitals teammates are fondly referring to him as the new Dada after the icon of Indian cricket as the skinny left-handed batter has been revelling in the powerplays of late in the company of the other young turk – Jake Fraser-McGurk.

On Tuesday evening, Abhishek got into the act again with some calculated hitting all around the park against Lucknow Super Giants at the Arun Jaitley Stadium for his 58 off 33 balls at a strike rate of 175.76, his second half-century this season as he has raked up a healthy 327 runs from 14 matches.

The likes of Porel, Fraser-McGurk and Abhishek Sharma of Sunrisers Hyderabad have been the young talents who have dominated the powerplays along with few bigger names from the international circuit – though it was a case of being at the right place at the right time for the Bengal boy.

The odds on an opening pair of Porel and Fraser-McGurk at the start of the season would have been unthinkable as Delhi then boasted of the veteran David Warner and Prithvi Shaw there.

However, the injury lay-off for Warner and Shaw’s struggling for form meant the Capitals management were left to look for that additional spark at the top of the order. It’s to Abhisek’s credit that he was not consumed by a fear of failure – first with a cracking 66 (0ff 25 balls) against a quality bowling attack of Rajasthan Royals and now against LSG yesterday. The one-handed six off Naveed-ul-Haque on Tuesday, with the bottom hand slipping was so reminiscent of his captain Pant, that it became very much a talking point.   

The younger brother of pacer Ishan Porel, a member of the Under-19 World Cup winning Indian team in 2018, Abhishek made his debut in List A matches for his state only in 2022. His multi-tasking abilities in the IPL has earned him a high praise from their chief coach Ricky Ponting, while he is sure to make into the shortlist of franchises for the mega auction for next year after beginning his journey with a base price of Rs 20 lakh (two million). 

‘’I think, what we’ve seen in the last half a dozen games in particular, that talent’s really starting to shine through. He’s starting to work out what IPL cricket is all about. He’s had a couple of different roles as well. In the first game of the season for us, he came in as a No. 9 batsman, Impact Player, and made 32 off 10 balls there and now we see him opening the batting and he's got better and better every game,’’ Ponting said ahead of their game against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, where Porel kept wickets when Pant was banned for a game. 

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