Iyer, a former Delhi Capitals skipper, was roped in by KKR in the IPL 2022 mega-auction and was named their skipper last season.
Iyer missed plenty of international cricket in 2023 due to this back injury and is set to miss at least the first half of the IPL 2023 and could be even ruled out for the entire tournament. KKR announced Nitish Rana, who’s been with them since 2018, as their captain until Iyer returns, if he returns this season.
Here are 3 major reasons why KKR are likely to struggle in IPL 2023 in Shreyas Iyer’s absence:
Inexperience of Nitish Rana as captain
Shreyas Iyer had led Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2020 final and before that in the playoffs. With DC deciding to retain Pant as their captain, Iyer moved out of DC and was picked up in the auction by KKR, who were also searching for a new skipper after releasing Eoin Morgan.
KKR were quick to name Iyer their captain, knowing that they were getting an experienced skipper and someone to lead them in the future as well. And even though KKR didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season, there never was a doubt that Iyer wouldn’t continue as their captain – their failures in IPL 2022 also had to do a lot with the poor decision-making in the auction.
Now, however, while Rana is an experienced player, he’s neither an experienced captain nor even an India player. Rana has led his state team Delhi in 12 T20s in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, with eight wins and four defeats – good record, but the IPL is a totally different challenge than the domestic T20 matches. It’s going to be a tough ask for Rana to lead the side while also looking at the other players, including managing seniors like Narine and Russell, and also focusing on his own batting.
Shreyas Iyer was KKR’s middle-order strength
Shreyas Iyer was KKR’s leading run-scorer in the IPL 2022 with 401 runs, averaging 30 with a strike rate of 134 with 3 fifties. Rana wasn’t far behind, with 361 runs at a strike rate of 143. Rana played the role of a top-order aggressor while Iyer was the stabiliser in the middle before the likes of Russell came in to bat.
How KKR will manage their batting resources in the absence of Iyer, and the tempo at which the batters will bat will be interesting to see.
Form of Indian batters is a slight concern for KKR
Nitish Rana himself was dropped from Delhi’s Ranji Trophy side, and that speaks of his form and touch, and perhaps even the batting confidence the left-hander will come into the Indian Premier League 2023 with. Rana also made just one fifty in the entire Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament, although he had a good SMAT season before that.
Venkatesh Iyer, who was dropped from the KKR XI last year, also had a topsy-turvy domestic season, and so did Rinku Singh, who left a big impression last season, but will now have the pressure of carrying on from last season. Varun Chakaravarthy’s whereabouts in the time between IPL seasons is less highlighted because of his ordinary show in domestic matches, while Umesh Yadav only plays red-ball cricket for India.
N Jagadeesan had a big domestic season but isn’t a certain starter while Mandeep Singh had another par year. Harshit Rana, Vaibhav Arora, Kulwant Khejroliya have little IPL experience, so expectations from them can’t be high.
KKR squad for IPL 2023:
Venkatesh Iyer, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shreyas Iyer (injured), Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Mandeep Singh, N Jagadeesan, Litton Das, Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, David Wiese, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy, Suyash Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Umesh Yadav, Vaibhav Arora, Kulwant Khejroliya.