Even before the first ball in the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been bowled, the world's biggest T20 extravaganza has lost one its most famous international stars. Ricky Ponting is set to pull out of the Kolkata Knight Riders team due to Australia's international commitments which wouldn't have allowed him to play more than five-six matches anyway.
While Knight Riders officials said they are yet to hear from the Australia captain officially, other sources confirmed that Ponting has made up his mind to skip this year's competition.
The player is apparently weighed down by excessive workload. But officials of the team co-owned by Shah Rukh Khan didn't seem too worried, saying that they had lined up replacements for Ponting anyway. "Given that we knew he would at best be available for a few matches we had been looking for other players to fill in the gap," said an official.
As things stand now, they will take one from Morne van Wyk, Luke Wright and Chamara Kapugedara. "We are confident of finalising one in the next couple of days," said the team official.
The Sourav Ganguly-led team will miss Umar Gul following the Pakistan government's decision to refuse permission to players to play in India for security reasons. The Knight Riders have already roped in Australian Mark Cameron as Gul's replacement.
This means that foreigners at the disposal of the Knight Riders this season are Chris Gayle (West Indies), Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Ajantha Mendis, Agnelo Mathews (both Sri Lanka), David Hussey, Brad Hodge, Moises Henriques, Cameron (all four Australia) and Mashrafe Mortaza (Bangladesh).
This leaves them with one more vacancy with Van Wyk, Wright and Kapugedara as the likely options.