My Ideal Replacements for KKR Players in the IPL 2023 Season

Photo Cred: The Times of India

In the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had several player unavailabilities throughout the season. They needed suitable replacements to maintain the quality of their playing XI. Backups are always an integral part of a whole season to make sure there is a “next man up” ready at all times. Here are my ideal replacements for the players who were unavailable during the season.

3 opening combinations KKR can try in IPL 2023

Photo Cred: Sportskeeda

Key: Bowling abbreviations can be found in this hyperlink. RHB- Right-Handed Batter, LHB- Left-Handed Batter.

Shreyas Iyer- Back Injury/Surgery

(Written as of April 1st and April 6th; stats written as of the present time)

Shreyas Iyer (RHB, OB, LBG), the captain of the Knight Riders, has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament. He will be having back surgery that will take him out for at least three months. This is a big blow to the side, as coach Chandrakant Pandit was expecting Shreyas to be back near the second half or end of the season. This means Nitish Rana will be the full-time captain for the rest of the 2023 season.”

On the loss of Iyer: “Batting-wise, I am not exactly optimistic about our chances. [Andre] Russell might need to move up higher if we lose wickets early. Our team is filled with way too many opening (and wicket-keeping) options and not enough middle-order depth… Of course, [if] Venkatesh Iyer [drops] to the middle-order, [I feel like] things are more rounded up. [Narayan] Jagadeesan can [then] continue his run at the top.”

Stats: T20I/T20- 49/197 matches, 1043/5217 runs, 30.67/32.00 ave, 135.98/130.29 SR.

IPL-specific stats: 101 matches, 2776 runs, 31.55 ave, 125.38 SR.

Mens Team | IPLT20

Photo Cred: Mens Team | IPLT20 (Iyer)

His Possible Replacements

“If I had things my way or if I were a part of the KKR think tank/management, my ideal replacement for (Shreyas) would be a middle-order batter. Our middle-order has not been a strength in recent years, although this year particularly looks bad, especially more so without (Iyer) shoring things up.” I found a total of eight batters, with three from the 2023 IPL Auction unsold list and another five from the list of registered players who did not have their names called.

Unsold List Players

(Written as of the present time, with details from April 1st)

  1. Karan Shinde (LHB, LBG)- Of the three players mentioned, he has the most extreme statistics. He has the best ave and SR but also has played the fewest games and, consequently, scored the fewest runs. However, if his six matches have yielded such a performance, I would duly look forward to what this 25-year-old can bring.
    • Stats: T20- 6 matches, 176 runs, 44.00 ave, 149.15 SR.
  2. Ekant Sen (RHB, RAM)- The eldest of the three. He has a decent number of runs in the matches played, but his strike rate is on the lower side. The average could use some improvement but is still acceptable.
    • Stats: T20- 25 matches, 416 runs, 26.00 ave, 126.06 SR.
  3. Himmat Singh (RHB, OB)- The most experienced player among the three, both in terms of matches played and runs scored. While his ave is the lowest, it seems to go with his high SR. It’s still good enough for what I am expecting of a replacement player.
    • Stats: T20- 40 matches, 654 runs, 25.15 ave, 130.80 SR.

Photo Cred: YouTube- Cricket Mirror (Shinde)                   Photo Cred: ESPNcricinfo (Singh)

Remaining Registered List Players

(Written as of April 6th)

  1. Gurkeerat Singh Mann (RHB, OB)- One of the three former KKR players in this list. Compared to most other options on the registered players list, I am comfortable with his stats. Decent average and SR in the format. His IPL stats could use a lot of work, though.
    • Stats: T20- 118 matches, 1985 runs, 25.77 ave, 124.06 SR.
    • IPL-specific stats: 41 matches, 511 runs, 21.29 ave, 121.09 SR.
  2. Karun Nair (RHB, OB)- The second former KKR player. Surprisingly, he has wonderful T20 stats. For some reason, it just hasn’t been applied in the IPL specifically. He is known more for his Test and First-Class cricket exploits.
    • Stats: T20: 150 matches, 2989 runs, 28.77 ave, 133.09 SR.
    • IPL-specific stats: 76 matches, 1496 runs, 23.75 ave, 127.75 SR.
  3. Apoorv Wankhade (RHB, RAM)- The last of the KKR members. Judging by what I’m seeing, he’s the best of this lot. Hasn’t made his IPL debut yet, looks like a good time for him to get one.
    • Stats: T20- 70 matches, 1295 runs, 28.77 ave, 131.15 SR.
  4. Amandeep Khare (RHB, RAM)- One of the rare times I pick a player because of a superior batting average than [the] strike rate! [A] 40+ average in this short format is almost unheard of. SR is not bad at all either.
    • Stats: T20- 41 matches, 1194 runs, 41.17 ave, 123.34 SR.
  5. Armaan Jaffer (RHB, OB)- Jaffer may have played only one game in the T20 format but, if those are the stats, sign me up! Mostly has been a List A (15 matches) and First-Class (15 matches) cricketer. Great batting averages (42.00/29.57), FC strike rate looks good, List A SR could use work.
    • Stats: T20- One match, 27 runs, 27.00 ave, 168.75 SR.

Photo Cred: Kolkata Knight Riders                                     Photo Cred: ESPNcricinfo (Nair)

Iyer’s Actual Replacement

(Written as of April 16th)

“This is not exactly new news, as the information did come out right before the KKR-SRH matchup on Friday, but KKR has finally roped in a player to replace Shreyas Iyer. Well, it hasn’t been officially said who he is replacing, but I will assume it’s for Iyer. 20-year-old Gujarati player Aarya Desai (LHB, OB) has joined us for Rs. 20 lakhs.”

“Desai has played three First-Class cricket matches for Gujarat so far this year, his only games. He’s hit 151 runs at an average of 25.16 and a strike rate of 57.63. He does have one 50 in six innings, a high score of 88. He’s also bowled nine overs at a 4.00 econ. In all six innings, he’s either batted at 1 or 2, meaning he is an opener.”

Who is Aarya Desai, the player signed by KKR for the remainder of IPL 2023?

Photo Cred: Sportskeeda

“My thoughts: WHY? Why do we need yet another player whose primary position is either as an opener or the top-order? Our struggles this year have been consistency in the middle order. Are we going to try to force someone out of position to fix those problems? When Shakib Al Hasan was out, we replaced him with Jason Roy. Now, Desai is (essentially) Iyer’s replacement… I wouldn’t have minded us even signing another spinner or spin-bowling all-rounder, but the last thing we needed was another opener…”

Shakib Al Hasan- Opted Out Due to International Commitments

(Almost all of the section was written as of April 6th)

“Along with Shreyas, another player will not be representing the Galaxy of Knights. Shakib Al Hasan (LHB, SLA) has opted out of the tournament due to personal reasons as well as international engagements for Bangladesh. This loss will not affect us as much, as he was always supposed to be cover/a like-for-like replacement for Sunil Narine as a spin-bowling all-rounder.”

Stats (written as of the present time): T20I/T20- 117/415 matches, 2382/6954 runs, 23.82/21.39 ave, 122.40/124.24 SR, 140/465 wickets, 20.49/21.32 ave, 6.79/6.77 econ.

IPL-specific stats (written as of the present time): 71 matches, 793 runs, 19.83 ave, 124.49 SR, 63 wickets, 29.19 ave, 7.44 econ.

IPL 2023: KKR's Shakib Al Hasan pulls out of IPL 16 due to 'international commitments and personal issues'

Photo Cred: Circle of Cricket (Shakib)

His Possible Replacements

“Ideally, I would not mind having an overseas middle-order batter as a replacement for Shakib. If Narine were to fail/be injured/be otherwise unavailable, it would be ideal to have someone who can immediately be swapped into his place. Due to this reason, and having seen his (Narine’s) performance with the ball in game 1 vs. PBKS, the overseas replacement for Shakib should’ve ideally been another spin-bowling all-rounder.”

“Although it is a moot point now [since the replacement was already picked before I could write this], here are [the five] players I would’ve picked from the unsold players list and the list of registered players.”

Unsold List Players

(I forgot to add how many matches these guys have played when I initially wrote this. The numbers have since changed from the time written.)

  1. Mohammad Nabi (RHB, OB) (Afghanistan). Nabi is the only real spin-bowling all-rounder on the unsold players list, so he makes this cut by default. His strike rates (139.17 in T20Is, 137.19 in T20s) and economy rates (7.31/7.01) are on point with what I like, but his batting and bowling averages could be better. Also helps that he is a former KKR player as well.
    • IPL-specific stats (written as of the present time): 17 matches, 180 runs, 15.00 ave, 151.26 SR, 13 wickets, 31.38 ave, 7.14 econ.

Since there aren’t any other spin-bowling all-rounder options, I will instead list [below] the names of two overseas spinners I would’ve taken.

  1. Mujeeb Ur Rahman (RHB, OB) (Afghanistan). Mujeeb has some of the best bowling average (17.90/23.33) and economy rate (6.28/6.69) numbers I’ve seen in recent memory, so I am always surprised to see him go unsold in the auction. However, it seems like his time in the IPL hasn’t gone so well: two bad seasons sandwiched between an excellent debut campaign in 2018 and a one-game appearance in 2021.
  2. Tabraiz Shamsi (RHB, LW) (left-arm wrist spin) (South Africa). Shamsi’s economy rates (7.28/7.25) might seem a touch higher than Mujeeb’s but his averages (21.54/21.86) are better. He’s also had no such luck in the IPL: only five games across two seasons, with a five-year gap between the two seasons!

Photo Cred: Facebook (Nabi)                             Photo Cred: Mens Team | IPLT20 (Mujeeb)

Remaining Registered List Players

(I forgot to add how many matches these guys have played when I initially wrote this. The numbers have since changed from the time written.)

  1. Rahkeem Cornwall (RHB, OB) (West Indies– Antigua). Cornwall might be a bit of cheating here but he is an amazing talent who I would absolutely love to see make his IPL debut. Good econ and SR, but could work on his averages.
    • Stats: T20- 1146 runs, 20.46 ave, 147.49 SR, 31 wickets, 27.83 ave, 7.47 econ.
  2. Fabian Allen (RHB, SLA) (West Indies- Jamaica). While Allen doesn’t have the best averages, he has always been more of a bowling all-rounder than a batting one. His strike rates and economy rates are good, which is all that matters to me.
    • Stats: T20I/T20- 24/64 wickets, 26.91/26.96 ave, 7.43/7.68 econ, 267/935 runs, 16.68/18.33 ave, 136.92/141.15 SR.
    • IPL-specific stats (written as of the present time): Five matches, 14 runs, 7.00 ave, 73.68 SR, two wickets, 68.00 ave, 9.07 econ.

Photo Cred: T10 League (Cornwall)                       Photo Cred: Mens Team | IPLT20 (Allen)

Al Hasan’s Actual Replacement

(Stats only written as of the present time)

“We have already signed a replacement for Shakib. Englishman Jason Roy (RHB) will be joining the Knight Riders for 2.8 Crores. While I am glad we have signed someone of his caliber, I am confused as to why we need so many top-order/opening options… In addition to Roy, we have Bangladeshi Litton Das and Afghan Rahmanullah Gurbaz (who played in game 1) alongside Indian options Narayan Jagadeesan and Mandeep Singh (who opened alongside Gurbaz in game 1).”

Mens Team | IPLT20

Photo Cred: Mens Team | IPLT20 (Roy)

“As I mentioned before in the first article in this series, three more players in this KKR side have had opening experience: Rana, Narine, and Venkatesh Iyer. At the very least, Roy can cover for Das while he still remains out (Das is participating in the one-off Bangladesh vs. Ireland Test).”

Stats: T20I/T20- 64/332 matches, 1522/8640 runs, 24.15/27.78 ave, 137.61/141.91 SR.

IPL-specific stats: 21 matches, 614 runs, 32.32 ave, 138.60 SR.

Litton Das- Family Medical Emergency

(Written as of April 30th and updated at the present time)

Litton Das (RHB, OB) becomes the latest KKR player to leave the team. After arriving late due to prior international commitments, he only played one game for the team before getting benched. Now, it seems like he will be unavailable for the rest of the season yet again. On April 28th, he had leave to go back to Bangladesh. After the reason was not initially known (to me), it was discovered that he had a family medical emergency to attend to.

Litton Das (@LittonOfficial) / X

Photo Cred: Twitter

In the long run, this absence should not significantly impact the team’s performance. Das could’ve made his mark as the KKR wicketkeeper but he was unable to. At least Kolkata still has Jagadeesan and Gurbaz on their side, and that’ll provide ample cover for the role.

Stats (written at the present time): T20I/T20- 73/185 matches, 1670/4142 runs, 23.52/23.94 ave, 130.87/127.87 SR.

IPL-specific stats (written at the present time): One match, four runs, 4.00 ave, 100.00 SR.

His Possible Replacements

It seems like most pressing need is fast-bowling support. KKR has been severely struggling in this category, with only a few games where one or more of the seamers actually showed up to the plate. This challenge was particularly pronounced in the overseas department, with Kiwis Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson falling short of expectations.

Round Table with the Kiwi Bowlers | Lockie Ferguson | Tim Southee | KKR | IPL 2021 - YouTube

Photo Cred: YouTube- Kolkata Knight Riders

While another opener/top-order batter would’ve been beneficial, Rahmanullah Gurbaz appears ready to step in. The middle order is firing now, albeit inconsistently, but is still showing promise. The last thing we need is a spinner, although a spin-bowling all-rounder would help us transition Sunil Narine out of the team. I am not sure if this decision aligns with KKR’s plans, even if it might do more good than harm.

Kolkata: KKR bowler Sunil Narine with Rahmanullah Gurbaz celebrate the dismissal of RCB batsman Virat Kohli #Gallery

Photo Cred: Social News XYZ (L- Gurbaz, R- Narine (#74))

I have identified nine seamers as potential replacements for us this late in the season. Four are from the unsold list, while another five are from the list of remaining registered players.

Unsold List Players (1-2)

(Written as of April 30th)

  1. Paul van Meekeren (RHB, RAFM) (Netherlands)- This Dutch bowler is on the top of my list of unsold seamers to get for us. High on my list of priorities is a low economy rate (econ), and he has one of the best of these nine guys I have listed! A good bowling average (ave) helps as well, and he’s a consistent wicket-taker to boot.
    • It does help that we have Ryan ten Doeschate on our coaching staff as the fielding coach. Maybe he could potentially lobby for his national teammate to join the mix as the second-ever Dutch player in the IPL (after ‘Tendo’s‘ tenure himself from 2011-15).
    • Stats: T20I/T20– 58/97 matches, 64/90 wickets, 21.21/27.05 ave, 6.99/7.75 econ.
  2. Blessing Muzarabani (RHB, RAFM) (Zimbabwe)- I’m sure Sikandar Raza would love to have his international teammate join him in the IPL as well, albeit on different teams. He maintains a good consistency in his averages and econs as well. Muzarabani has even picked up more wickets than matches played both domestically and internationally.
    • Stats: T20I/T20- 34/53 matches, 42/62 wickets, 23.57/24.26 ave, 7.92/7.88 econ.

Photo Cred: ESPNcricinfo (van Meekeren)                Photo Cred: ESPNcricinfo (Muzarabani)

Unsold List Players (3-4)

(Written as of April 30th)

3. Adam Milne (RHB, RAF) (New Zealand)- Milne is an out-and-out fast bowler, capable of bowling speeds up to 150 kph/93.21 mph. It also helps that he has played in the IPL previously, even if he doesn’t have the best of experiences in the competition. He has the most wickets of all nine bowlers, so he’s someone who could be depended on.

  • There’s also the Kiwi connection in Kolkata, as he would be potentially joining his countrymen Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson.
  • Stats: T20I/T20- 42/152 matches, 47/172 wickets, 24.78/23.75 ave, 8.04/7.70 econ.
  • IPL-specific stats– 10 matches, seven wickets, 46.71 ave, 9.48 econ.

4. Taskin Ahmed (LHB, RAF) (Bangladesh)- He is one of Bangladesh’s fastest bowlers, having bowled around 140 kph/87 mph with a max speed of 148 kph/91.96 mph before. It could be a little weird to replace your own countryman. I had to try, though, because Taskin was a potentially good option for me to pick. However, it is tough to expect him to get the required permission to play in the IPL, as he was previously denied an opportunity to play last year.

  • Stats: T20I/T20- 52/135 matches, 48/154 wickets, 28.10/23.73 ave, 7.72/8.01 econ.

Photo Cred: Hindustan Times (Milne)                                     Photo Cred: Wisden (Ahmed)

Remaining Registered List Players (1-3)

(Written as of April 30th)

  1. Ruben Trumpelmann (RHB, LAF) (represents Namibia, born in South Africa)- Having already seen a Namibian in the league (David Wiese), Trumpelmann could join him as a KKR teammate as well. Both of them are South African-born too, having chosen Namibia as their new cricketing nation. He has high aves but low econs, which I am more interested in anyway. Left-armers are also well sought after in the IPL.
    • Stats: T20I/T20- 19/24 matches, 12/17 wickets, 29.91/28.76 ave, 6.62/6.77 econ.
  2. Ottniel Baartman (RHB, RAMF) (South Africa)- The 30-year-old has quite the good stats in the T20 format! Would his skills translate in the IPL? Regardless of that, learning from one of the best bowling coaches in the world (Bharat Arun) could do wonders for his career.
    • Stats: T20- 51 matches, 68 wickets, 17.39 ave, 6.87 econ.
  3. Daryn Dupavillon (RHB, RAF) (South Africa)- Dupavillon isn’t even the last South African on this list! Seems to be a run on South African seamers here for me, and I don’t mind. However, it seems like these players could’ve flourished under Jacques Kallis when he was here as our coach. He’s even made his international debut already (2020), albeit in the ODI format. I like his stats as well.
    • Stats: T20- 46 matches, 54 wickets, 20.37 ave, 7.28 econ.

Photo Creds: (L) The Cricketer (Trumpelmann), (R) Dolphins Cricket (Baartman)

Remaining Registered List Players (4-5)

(Written as of April 30th)

4. Nandre Burger (LHB, LAMF) (South Africa)- Finally, the last Protea. The Chennai Super Kings got a first-hand look at this leftie in the SA20 with the Joburg Super Kings. However, his time there could’ve gone better: five matches, two wickets, 17 overs, 153 runs, 76.5 ave, 9.00 econ. Regardless, I am willing to give this 27-year-old another shot, albeit on a much bigger stage.

  • Stats: T20- 41 matches, 48 wickets, 21.72 ave, 7.31 econ.

5. Billy Stanlake (LHB, RAF) (Australia)- At 6’8″, Stanlake is one of the tallest fast bowlers out there in the world. Due to his height, he regularly troubled batters with his bounce and pace. Combine that with his ability to bowl express seam (150 kph/93.21 mph), and you have one of the most perfect bowlers to attack the opposition! Unfortunately, we haven’t heard more of him lately due to stress fracture injuries. This only limits him to T20 matches nowadays.

  • Said stress fractures have prevented him from playing the sport since 2021… After a long 18 months, it’s said that he made his comeback to the field around December 2022.
  • Stats: T20I/T20- 19/76 matches, 27/81 wickets, 20.14/26.53 ave, 7.77/8.01 econ.
  • IPL-specific stats– Six matches, seven wickets, 28.57 ave, 8.33 econ.

Photo Cred: (Burger)               Photo Cred: (Stanlake)

Das’ Actual Replacement

(Written as of the present time)

KKR signed up Johnson Charles (RHB) (West Indies- St Lucia) on May 4th. Looks like we are trying to replace Das with a like-for-like player, as Charles is also a wicketkeeper-batter. This move suggests competition, giving me the indication that Jagadeesan and Gurbaz may not be safe yet. That KKR wicketkeeper role, as well as an opening position, is still up for grabs. Charles is also primarily a top-order batter, so he will act as depth for nos. 1-3 as well. He is best asset is his strike rate as you will see below.


Photo Cred: Kolkata Knight Riders

Stats: T20I/T20- 44/231 matches, 988/5715 runs, 22.97/26.45 ave, 129.15/130.36 SR.

Thoughts After the End of the Season

Aarya Desai

He didn’t get to play a game for KKR. Seemed like an intriguing option to fix our top-order problems. That being said, throwing a player with already limited experience into the fire of facing IPL bowlers is not recommended. To be honest, he doesn’t seem like a candidate to be retained. I’m also not sure if anyone else wants to take the risk or hand him an opportunity. He needs some more T20 experience under his wings to have a true shot at any playing time for an IPL team, let alone even making the team.

Aarya Desai | Bowling and Batting | KKR team - YouTube

Photo Cred: YouTube- Cricket Mirror

Jason Roy

I stand corrected regarding all the top-order/opening problems we had throughout the season. Initially, I was worried about all the details surrounding his signing. He was actually signed for money than his base price (1.5 crore) was, something I had seen happening for the first time. He certainly believed in his talent and skill, so he got more than he would’ve normally gotten. And he was well worth every rupee!

Kolkata Knight Riders Predicted XI vs Gujarat Titans: Will Jason Roy Make His IPL 2023 Debut? | Cricket News

Photo Cred: NDTV – Sports

Roy turned around the KKR fortunes from the moment he stepped on the field. He delivered his best IPL season ever, compared to all the other times he played. His eight matches for 285 runs, 35.63 ave, and 151.60 SR are all IPL career bests. Roy also hit two 50s while hitting 36 4s and 12 6s, proving to be the pure power hitter we’ve been waiting for!

Johnson Charles

Another player who did not get a game for the team. He was added to the roster with 4-5 games remaining in the season. While the wicketkeeper’s spot and one of the opening spots were in flux, Charles may not have had enough time to stake his claim in either role. He strictly stayed on a depth piece. With that being said, I would not mind taking a chance on him next season. His base price of 50 lakhs is very cheap, so it shouldn’t be a problem to keep him money-wise. Since we didn’t see anything from him this year, why not give him a chance to prove himself properly?

Johnson Charles Cricket Stats, News, Age, Batting Average, Bowling Average | Wisden

Photo Cred: Wisden

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