Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Monday announced that left-handed batter Nitish Rana will be the side's captain for the upcoming IPL 2023 in the absence of Shreyas Iyer, who is recovering from a back injury.
KKR also said in their official statement that they are hopeful of Iyer recovering and participating in IPL 2023 at some stage. Rana has previously led his domestic cricket team Delhi in 12 T20 matches of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, with the side having eight wins and four losses.
"We feel fortunate that Nitish, with the captaincy experience having led his state side in white ball cricket and the IPL experience he has had with KKR since 2018, will do a great job."
"We are also confident that under Head Coach Chandrakant Pandit and the support staff, he will get all the support needed off the field, and the highly experienced leaders in the squad will provide all support that Nitish may need on the field.
We wish him the best in his new role and Shreyas a full and speedy recovery," added the franchise. Rana, who also bowls handy off-spin and has one ODI as well as T20I appearance for India in 2021, has been a vital cog in the wheel of KKR's batting order since 2018.
Rana, 29, has amassed 450 runs from 14 innings at the Eden Gardens for KKR, averaging 34.62 at a strike-rate of 140.19. Overall, he has scored 2181 runs in 91 matches of the IPL at an average of 28.32 and strike-rate of 134.22, including 15 fifties.
Iyer, on the other hand, had been doubtful to participate in IPL 2023 suffered a recurrence of lower back injury during the fourth Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test against Australia at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
He had missed the ODIs against New Zealand as well as the first Test against Australia due to the lower back injury. Though he did play in the second and third Tests against Australia, Iyer suffered a relapse of the lower back injury after day three's play at Ahmedabad and was taken for scans.
It meant he did not come out to bat in India's only innings and was ruled out of participation for the rest of the drawn Test match. He then was subsequently ruled out of ODIs against Australia held earlier in the month.
While IPL 2023 starts from March 31, Kolkata are scheduled to play their first match of the tournament on April 1, against Shikhar Dhawan-led Punjab Kings at the PCA Stadium in Mohali. Kolkata will play their first home game at the Eden Gardens on April 6 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.