Johnson Charles joins Kolkata Knight Riders

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Two-time T20 World Cup champion Johnson Charles has joined Kolkata Knight Riders for the remainder of IPL 2023 as a replacement player for Litton Das.

Charles, a member of the West Indies team that was crowned champions in 2012 and 2016, brings with him extensive experience at the top of the batting order.

He has opened in 179 of his 219 T20 innings, averaging 25.47 and striking at 125.72. He is, however, only just reacquainting himself with international cricket.

Charles spent six years out of the West Indies set up, returning in October 2022 and playing seven T20Is since. He made a 39-ball century against South Africa in March.

This will be the 34 year-old’s first stint in the IPL, having previously been part of franchise leagues in the Caribbean, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Litton had left the Knight Riders camp earlier this month to attend to a medical emergency in his family. He played only one game in IPL 2023 having been bought for INR 50 lakh (approx USD 60,000) at the auction in December last year.

Litton had also been called up to play for Bangladesh in an ODI series against Ireland starting next week. He would have missed three of the Knight Riders’ four remaining matches as they continue to fight for a place in the playoffs.

KKR have been struggling for stability at the top this season, having gone through six opening combinations in nine games.

Their first wicket partnership averages 21.33 – only Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals fare worse – and has crossed fifty just once.

Charles, brought in for INR 50 lakh (approx USD 60,000), does have some experience batting in the middle order as well.

He’s hit two of his three T20 centuries from Nos. 3 and 4, which may come in handy given KKR have two other players who present an attractive package as opening batters.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz was in top form in thelr last game – a loss to Gujarat Titans – and Jason Roy showcased excellent skill, especially against spin, in two of his three innings so far. If these two keep their spots, Charles may not get a lot of game time considering Andre Russell and Sunil Narine walk into the XI every time they’re fit. IPL teams can only pick four overseas players for each game.

Knight Riders, currently eighth on the points table, face Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday and have matches scheduled with Punjab Kings (May 8), Rajasthan Royals (May 11), Chennai Super Kings (May 14) and Lucknow Super Giants (May 20). (ESPNcricinfo)

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