Delhi Daredevils suffered a big jolt ahead of their IPL campaign as captain Kevin Pietersen was on Thursday ruled out of their opening match against Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Thursday due to a finger injury.
Pietersen, who was bought by Daredevils for USD 1.5 million (Rs 9 crore), had sustained an injury on his right hand little finger during fielding drills with Surrey at The Oval last month.
Vice-captain Dinesh Karthik will lead the team tomorrow, Daredevils assistant coach Eric Simons said. "He (Pietersen) did not play in the practice match and he won't be considered for tomorrow's game. Dinesh Karthik will captain the side," Simons said.
"It is a setback for us because he is an important player in our set-up. It's a bit of a jolt for us, but what we did well during the auction was that we made sure we had covered all 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 said.
Simons said Pietersen himself 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 practice sessions, he has been there for all of them. He is enthusiastic about his new role for Daredevils this year and it's disappointing for him as much as it's for us," he said.
Asked when would Pietersen be available and if he has been going through practice drills, Simons said, "We would take it one game at a time and see how he progresses each morning. He has been doing some work with bat -- some drills more than anything else, but nothing too strenuous with bat."
This means that Pietersen's post-England career will have to be delayed. He was sacked in the wake of England's 0-5 Ashes whitewash in Australia last winter, which made him available for a full IPL season for the first time.