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IPL Staff in Dubai 16 April 2014 - 06:33pm IST

Kevin Pietersen ruled out of DD opener

Vice-captain Dinesh Karthik to lead the side in his absence

Delhi Daredevils captain Kevin Pietersen will miss the side’s opening game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday. Pietersen is believed to have injured his finger during a practice drill and will be forced to watch the game from the sidelines. “He did not play in the practice match and he won’t be considered for tomorrow’s game. Dinesh Karthik will captain the side,” Delhi Daredevils’ assistant coach, Eric Simmons, confirmed.

“It is a setback for us because he is an important player in our setup. It is a bit of a jolt for us, but what we did well during the auction was that we made sure that we had covered all the areas. I think we have got ample replacements about who we can consider during such situations, and that was one of the strengths of the squad that we have put together,” he added.

Not just the team, but even Pietersen was disappointed on missing out since he has been looking forward to playing for a long time now. “It is tough for KP himself. He is someone who is very passionate. Even though he has not been able to take much part in the practice sessions, he has been there for all of them. He is enthusiastic about his new role for the Delhi Daredevils this year, and it is disappointing for him as much as it is for us,” Simmons said.

When asked about the time Pietersen would take to recover and if he has been going through the practice drills, Simmons said, “We would take it one game at a time and see how Pietersen progresses each morning. He has been doing some work with the bat – some drills more than anything else, but nothing too strenuous with the bat.”

Pietersen’s absence will be felt, but Simmons was of the view that he had a bigger role in the Daredevils setup. “He has been with us over the last two IPL seasons and has been an amazing influence. He has been an inspiration for a lot of players in the team, and the confidence he passes on to others is infectious. Not just for the runs, but KP has played a major role for us and it has been exactly the same this time around. The relationship that he has with the players has a very positive influence on the team from a cricketing perspective and the team culture.”

That aside, the team has a match to play and it will be crucial for them to start off on a positive note. And coach Simmons was happy with his team’s preparations leading up to the first game.

“We were very pleased with the practice match the other day. We had some good learning from it, which is important from the team’s perspective to get a sense of the new unit. Hopefully, that is going to give us some momentum going into the first few matches. I think the team that arrives back in India with a healthy win record in this portion will have some momentum going into India.”

Simmons also felt that the spinners will play a vital role in the IPL. “The spinners play a crucial role in the IPL in India and it will be no different here. We have got quality spinners in our side like Rahul Sharma and an excellent left arm spinner in Shahbaz Nadeem. We also have JP Duminy who can bowl some off-spin for us. When KP gets fit, his bowling will also come in handy because he has an ability to get spin and bounce. I have a very simple game plan about spinners in T20 cricket and I would like to believe it has worked successfully in the past and we won’t deviate from that.”

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