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Batter Nitish Rana will be the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders (IPL) in the absence of regular skipper Shreyas Iyer, who is currently recovering from a back injury, the franchise announced on Monday.

The announcement was made on official Twitter handle of the franchise.

Though the franchise hopes that Shreyas will make a comeback at some stage during the league, they have chosen to bank on Nitish's experience as a skipper for Delhi in domestic cricket in the shorter format. They also wished Iyer a full and speedy recovery.

"Kolkata Knight Riders today announced that Nitish Rana would captain the side in the absence of Shreyas lyer, who is recovering from a back injury. While we are hopeful that Shreyas will recover and participate at some stage in the IPL 2023 edition, 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," said KKR in a statement shared on twitter.

Rana has been with KKR since 2018. He has scored a total of 1,744 runs for the team in 74 matches at an average of 26.02. He has scored 11 half-centuries for the side with the best score of 87. In his IPL career, which also saw him play for Mumbai Indians from 2015-17, he has scored 2,181 runs in 91 matches at an average of 28.32, with 15 half-centuries and the best score of 87. His strike rate of 134.22 makes him a valuable asset for the side at the top.

Rana has a solid win-loss record as a captain. He has led Delhi in 12 T20Is in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the country's top T20I domestic competition, winning eight matches, and losing four. Iyer is likely to miss the first half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, reported ESPNCricinfo last week.

Iyer has opted out of back surgery for his recurring lower-back injury. He has been advised to rest and is continuing his rehab. The injury had first ruled him out of the final Test against Australia during the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy and he also missed the ODI series against the visitors.

There is no definite return date marked for Iyer and he will be under the supervision of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) medical staff at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. KKR, however, expects their skipper to be back for the second half of the cash-rich league.

Iyer's issues concern a disc bulge in his spine, which has resulted in an impinged nerve. The nerve runs along the right leg and has caused extreme pain in Iyer's calf. The batter has received six injections in the recent past to numb his back pain, according to ESPNCricinfo.

Iyer, 28, first experienced back discomfort last December just after the conclusion of the Bangladesh tour. He missed the series against New Zealand at home and the first BGT test against Australia. Though he returned to play the second and third tests, the pain resurfaced during the final test, where he fielded for two days. He did not come out to bat during India's only innings in the match which ended in a draw.

Kolkata Knight Riders will start its IPL 2023 campaign against Punjab Kings on April 1 at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali.

On April 6, they will be playing their first match at the home arena of Eden Gardens, Kolkata against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Last year, KKR managed a seventh-place finish in the points table with six wins, eight losses and 12 points in their 14 games. They failed to make it to the playoffs.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Squad strength 22 players (Overseas 8)Players bought in IPL 2023 auction- Shakib Al Hasan ( 1.50 crore), N. Jagadeesan ( 90 lakh), Vaibhav Arora ( 60 lakh), Suyash Sharma ( 20 lakh), David Wiese ( 1 crore), Kulwant Khejroliya ( 20 lakh), Litton Das ( 50 lakh), Mandeep Singh ( 50 lakh).

Players retained ahead of IPL 2023 auction: Shreyas Iyer (c), Nitish Rana, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Tim Southee, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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Updated: 27 Mar 2023, 06:58 PM IST
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