Usman Khawaja emerges as top contender to replace injured Kevin Pietersen
Australian batsman Usman Khawaja has emerged as the top contender to replace injured batsman Kevin Pietersen in the Rising Pune Supergiants'(RPS) squad.
The right-hander has been ruled out of the competition due to a calf injury, which he sustained against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday. It was a huge blow for RPS, who have won just 1 match out of five.
Usman Khawaja was in superb form in the Big Bash League and was expected to be one of the best buys in this year’s auction, but none of the franchises showed any interest in the in-form left-hander.
The exclusion surprised everyone as he scored 345 runs in his four innings in Big Bash League, and also played an integral role in helping the Thunders win their maiden title.
On being enquired about Khawaja replacing Pietersen, RPS coach Stephen Fleming said, “He is a guy we are surely looking at. There is a shortlist we are working through so looking at availability and visas and the like, but he is certainly a guy we are interested in.”
“Khawaja appears the No.1 choice, but nothing is cast in stone,” quoted a report mentioned in The Telegraph.
Khawaja’s inclusion in the squad might solve RPS’ batting woes. The opener was in a decent form in the recently concluded World T20.
The left-hander will be keen to impress in his first ever IPL, and RPS captain MS Dhoni will hope the Australia batsman can turn the fortunes of his team.
However, his inclusion can also give some selection headache to the RPS management as their openers Faf du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane are in good form and it will be interesting to see how they manage to include Khawaja in the playing eleven.
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