Australia pace bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the upcoming 11th edition of the Indian Premier League with a ‘tibial bone stress’ in his right leg. On Friday (March 30), he was ruled out of the fourth and final Test against South Africa, too, in Johannesburg.
Injury to Starc meant that fast bowler Chadd Sayers was handed his maiden Test cap.
Starc’s tryst with injuries has often kept him off the field lately. As recently as the Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne, a bruised heel had ruled the left-arm pacer out of action. While the 28-year-old had been a part of all three Tests in the ongoing tour of South Africa, he struggled with a stress fracture in his landing foot during the third game, in Cape Town.
The news comes across as a huge dent to Kolkata Knight Riders, who picked him during the mega player auction earlier in the year, for INR 9.4 Crore. Starc, who was tipped to lead the franchise’s bowling attack, will now leave a huge vacuum in their bowling tank with fellow compatriot Mitchell Johnson expected to step up to that role. It is understood that in accordance with the Player Regulations, KKR will now be allowed to choose a replacement from the Registered and Available Player Pool (RAPP).
Earlier, there had been speculations about the dearth of resources in the KKR outfit, with the franchise having picked just 18 players in the auction. The other fast bowling options in their squad are R Vinay Kumar, under-19 sensations Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, and CPL star Javon Searles as a bowling all-rounder.
KKR’s fortunes will also depend on how Andre Russell and Chris Lynn manage their injuries through the course of the tournament. While Russell picked up a hamstring injury during Pakistan Super League, he did return for the last two games of Islamabad United’s campaign. It is important to note that the West Indian all-rounder is coming back on the field after having served a one-year ban due to doping violation. However, the 29-year-old has already joined the ongoing preparatory camp in Kolkata.
Lynn, on the other hand, is expected to recover from his dislocated right shoulder – an injury he picked up during Australia’s T20I tri-series final against New Zealand. He subsequently missed out on the entire season of PSL this year. The swashbuckling opener had picked up a similar injury during KKR’s last season too, and was out for a major chunk of the tournament in 2017. Injury woes aside, Sunil Narine’s bowling action was reported during the PSL, and that could add to the pressure on the franchise’s most successful bowler.