Kolkata Knight Riders’ IPL 2023 season continues to be afflicted by player unavailability, with Shakib Al Hasan confirmed to be their latest absentee. Here are five potential replacements for him at KKR.

Shakib looked set for his third stint with KKR after being bought for base price at the auction. However, it was clear from the onset that his participation will be limited, owing to Bangladesh’s home and away series against Ireland. He missed KKR’s first match of the season; with the one-off Test in April, and a visit to the UK in May, his availability remained a challenge.

On April 3, it was confirmed that KKR would seek a replacement for Shakib, after the all-rounder opted out, citing the busy schedule and certain “personal issues”.

According to the rules, the Kolkata team can replace him with an unsold player in the auction with a base price equal to or less than Shakib’s.

Here are five players who could potentially fill the role:

Dasun Shanaka

A clear frontrunner. Shanaka has been in great touch with the bat of late: since the start of 2022, he’s struck at 142.98 [and 181.15 in 2023], scoring three of his five T20I fifties in that time. He’s churned out game-defining cameos, headlined by his 13-ball 48 against Australia, which completed one of the all-time great T20I chases. In terms of middle-order value, it looks like a good swap on paper.

And that’s just one aspect – the seam-bowling is also handy. Further, the Sri Lanka skipper can prove to be a dependable deputy to Nitish Rana, having proved his tactical nous in their Asia Cup win last year. In that tournament, Sri Lanka managed to down the bigger teams and emerge victors. A depleted KKR need some of that too.

Dawid Malan

What is a former No.1 ICC ranked T20I batter doing on the unsold list? Malan’s rapid rise in T20s has been followed by a period of indifferent form, but he continues to be a solid middle-order option. Like Shakib, he bats left handed (although there’s no dearth of those in the KKR middle order). What could work against him is the lack of bowling – Shakib’s spin on Kolkata’s tracks would have been a must-have. There also the question of strike rate, but that seems to have been addressed of late (since 2022, he strikes at 138.56 in T20s), along with his ability to play spin.

Daryl Mitchell

Quite an underrated T20 asset. He can be used as a floater, and has played some clutch T20 innings of late, such as his 72* against England at the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final. He’s hit three T20I fifties in the last six months, all at a strike rate above 150, including a hat-trick of sixes against India in India in January. He can also chip in with some decent seam-bowling. The issue could be his availability – he’s been drafted as an overseas at Lancashire, and is likely to be with the county beginning May.

Mohammad Nabi

Closer to Shakib in terms of his team role, with an arguably more explosive batting approach. Nabi won’t play in the top order, but can lend you some serious firepower down the order. Added to that is his off-spin that can easily cover four overs on slow pitches. Carrying the experience of 364 T20s, Nabi proved he’s still a force to reckon with when his all-round contribution sealed Afghanistan’s first-ever T20I win over Pakistan last month. However, there could be some apprehension about signing him again, given that Nabi was acquired by the franchise in 2022, but was released later after not being given a single game.

Fabian Allen

Part of Mumbai Indians last year, Allen played just a solitary game before being released ahead of the auction. His participation in the tournament thus far has been brief, but Allen does present an enviable package. Since the start of 2022, he’s taken 26 wickets at 19.03 (economy of 7.55), including key spells that took Jamaica to a CPL title last year. He can give the ball a clean whack and is an excellent fielder. What more do you need?

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