Indian middle-order batter and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) skipper Shreyas Iyer is likely to miss the first half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023.
Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana are among the frontrunners to take the leadership position in the franchise during his time away from the game.
As per ESPNCricinfo, Iyer has opted out of back surgery for his recurring lower-back injury. He has been advised to rest and is continuing his rehab. The injury had first ruled him out of the final Test against Australia during the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy and he also missed the ODI series against the visitors.
There is no definite return date marked for Iyer and he will be under the supervision of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) medical staff at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. KKR however expects their skipper to be back for the second half of the cash-rich league.
Iyer's issues concern a disc bulge in his spine, which has resulted in an impinged nerve. The nerve runs along the right leg and has caused extreme pain in Iyer's calf. The batter has received six injections in the recent past to numb his back pain.
Iyer, 28, first experienced back discomfort last December just after the conclusion of the Bangladesh tour. He missed the series against New Zealand at home and the first BGT test against Australia. Though he returned to play the second and third tests, the pain resurfaced during the final test, where he fielded for two days. He did not come out to bat during India's only innings in the match which ended in a draw.
The batter consulted a spine surgeon in Mumbai and was given two options: To rest, rehab, and wait for the pain to go before he could start with strength and conditioning and mobility exercises or go for surgery. BCCI even consulted a London-based specialist, who had carried out Hardik Pandy's back surgery for a second opinion. The specialist advised Iyer to consider the first option.
Iyer has told BCCI that he wants to explore other options before taking a call on surgery. He also received help from KKR management who helped him consult an Ayurveda specialist for non-intrusive alternative medicine.
Though Narine and Rana are front-runners to be KKR captain in Iyer's absence, KKR is deliberating hard on who could be a better choice overall: man-manger, good communicator, leading team-mates and getting the best out of them under pressure in a match situation.
Narine has been one of the standout performers for KKR since joining it in 2012, he led Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the inaugural edition of the International League T20 (ILT20) in UAE. However, his stint as a skipper was disappointing as his side finished at the bottom of the table with one win and eight losses.
Rana however has a solid win-loss record. He has led Delhi in 12 T20Is in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, winning eight, and losing four. (ANI)