Australia batsman Usman Khawaja is set to join Rising Pune Supergiants as replacement for an injured Kevin Pietersen in IPL 2016, the Telegraph reported. The Englishman 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 had high hopes from Pietersen.
Though no official comment has come from RPS regarding Khawaja, Telegraph sources have confirmed the Australian as Pietersen's replacement.
Khawaja was expected to be one of the best buys in the IPL 2016 Player Auction, but none of the franchises showed any interest in the in-form left-hander.
His exclusion was surprising after his string of impressive performances for Sydney Thunders during the Big Bash League in Australia, which ended a few weeks prior to the auction. The left-hander scored 345 runs in his four innings, and also played an integral role in helping the Thunders win their maiden Big Bash.
Now, RPS seems to be keen in getting the star player, who is a top-order batsman. Khawaja has been a successful opener in the T20 format as he loves to play his shots all around the ground during the powerplay.
However, RPS might encounter a small problem as current openers Faf du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane have been decent for the franchise this season. They will have to drop one of the players down the order, and in all probability, one might see Du Plessis batting at number three, a spot occupied by Petersen in the first few matches of IPL 2016.
The 29-year-old will be keen to impress in his first ever IPL, and captain MS Dhoni will hope the Australia batsman can turn the fortunes of his team. RPS have been one of the weakest teams in IPL 2016, losing four matches on a trot.