Just three weeks before the beginning of the IPL, there is some bad news for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The team which has already been under scrutiny after its auction strategy and Dinesh Karthik’s selection as Captain has faced another jolt in the form of an injury to veteran Australian left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson.
Johnson sustained a serious injury while he was working out in the gym on Tuesday. He slammed his head on the metal bar while doing chin-ups which left him with a deep cut on his head. With little time left for recovery, KKR may now need to look for other pace bowling options who can take his place. Here are five pacers who can replace Mitchell Johnson in KKR.
They say Cricket is a great leveler. Tymall Mills who was bagged by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for 12 crores in 2017 found no takers this year despite his base price being fixed at 1 crore. The reason why franchises gave him a cold shoulder was his ordinary performance in the previous IPL season.
In 2017, Mills played only five matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore in which he picked up as many wickets at an average over 30 and an economy rate close to nine. While these numbers can be called nothing more than ordinary, the argument in his defense is that he was not given enough opportunities. Given his raw pace and deceptive slower ones, he can turn his fortunes around this time if presented with sufficient chances by KKR.
English pacer and Mitchell Johnson’s teammate in the Big Bash League (BBL), David Willey is another bowler who can replace him. Like Johnson, Willey too is a left-armer and plays for the Perth Scorchers. The 28-year-old had set his base price at two crores which ultimately proved to be too much for the franchises to give it a go.
Apart from being a great exponent of swing bowling, the Leeds-based cricketer can make good use of the long handle as well. His all-around abilities can come in handy for the KKR side where he, along with Andre Russell, can contribute some useful runs lower down the order.
Mitchell McClenaghan had been an integral part of the Mumbai Indians set-up for the past three years. It was only in the last few games in the previous IPL edition that McClenaghan’s performance started waning so much so that he was dropped for the final against Rising Pune Supergiant.
With a tall and brawny physique, the New Zealander has the ability to generate some serious pace. His slower ones are also mostly on point. With an experience of playing in several other T20 leagues like the Big Bash and the Pakistan Super League, the 31-year-old can prove to be a good bet for KKR.
Hailing from the Shane Bond school of fast bowling, Lockie Ferguson is capable of touching the 150 kmph mark. He was picked up by the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in the previous edition of the IPL and featured in five games for RPS with an average of 31 and an economy rate of a shade over seven.
With the franchise being dissolved, no team bid for the injury-prone bowler this year despite his base price being 75 lakhs. If Ferguson can manage his body better, he can be an X-factor for KKR given his searing pace. The fact that he is also a relatively unknown commodity may go in his favour making it difficult for the opposition to get going against him from the outset.