New Delhi: Kolkata Knight Riders and Sri Lankan club Southern Express suffered a major blow to their Champions League Twenty20 title aspirations with KKR losing their South African medium-pacer Morne Morkel to a shoulder injury and SE's ace batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan pulling out due to 'personal reasons'.
Morkel is Kolkata Knight Riders' third overseas player to be ruled out of the competition.
Earlier, Australian batsman Chris Lynn was ruled out post a shoulder surgery, while Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan had his No Objection Certificate (NOC) cancelled by the Bangladesh Cricket Board because of disciplinary issues.
KKR Team Manager Joy Bhattacharya today confirmed that wicketkeeper-batsman Manvinder Bisla, who was part of the 15-day training and fitness camp to Bloemfontein with Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav, will take Morkel's place in the 15-member squad.
Morkel, who was bought by KKR for Rupees 28,000,000 at the 2014 player auction, bagged 12 wickets in 12 matches at an average of 30.58 and economy of 7.64.
KKR are now left with five overseas signings with Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine, Ryan ten Doeschate, Andre Russell and Pat Cummins raring to go in the sixth edition of the CLT20, starting Saturday.
Meanwhile, in a huge blow to Southern Express, their ace batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan has pulled out of the contest due
to "personal reasons".
"I have been informed today that Dilshan won't be participating in the CLT20 due to personal reasons. So that's all information we have got for now," said the manager of Southern Express, Shane Fernando at a press conference on Thursday.
Southern Express, considered underdog in tournament with only a few senior players in the fold, are already facing a tough time in the absence of star pacer Lasith Malinga, who had captained the team to the championship title at the domestic Super Fours T20 tournament.
Malinga has decided to play for his Indian Premier League side, Mumbai Indians in CLT20.
"Not having Malinga is a bit of a blow for us as he was a part of the team in Colombo. As far as Dilshan is concerned he didn't attend the practice and played games. Obviously he is big player and a great batsman. But we have a good balanced side and looking to do well in the championship," Shane replied when asked about the impact of absence of Malinga and Dilshan on team's performance.
Replying to a query on the current composition of his team, Shane said, "If you look at our team, apart from three players we have men with international exposure and also those who have been in Sri Lankan 'A' side and T20 side. So we got a balanced side. Even the fresh youngsters are very talented and ready to deliver their best.
"If you consider us inexperienced its good for us as a team who come here. Obviously we are going to perform well."
To a query on the overall strength of his team, captain Jehan Mubarak said that it has been doing well with the bat but will be focusing to capitalise on each compartment and look to progress in the tournament game by game.
Ruling out key role of any single or couple of players in a match, Mubarak said, "Teams, whether it's international or domestic matches, don't rely on one or two players. They make plans to go with the entire team."
Southern Express will take on Northern Knights at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium here on September 13 before locking horns with tougher opponents Lahore Lions and Mumbai Indians.
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