Indian Premier League 2017

Watson to lead RCB with AB ruled out

Shane Watson to captain the IPL outfit missing superstars Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers

Cricket Network

4 April 2017, 07:47 AM AEST

Royal Challengers Bangalore have been hit by another injury to a key international, with key South Africa batsman AB de Villiers ruled out.

The untimely injury to de Villiers on the cusp of the tenth IPL season further tests the squad's depth following the early-season absence of Virat Kohli. Fellow India international KL Rahul has also been ruled out of the IPL for the season.

Kohli is still battling the shoulder injury he picked up diving in the field during the drawn third Border-Gavaskar Test in Ranchi.

It opens the door for Australia allrounder Shane Watson to take the captaincy of last season's runners-up for their opening clash in the early hours of Thursday morning (12.30am AEDT).

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Watson has captained Australia's T20 side and previously led the now defunct Rajasthan Royals in the IPL before he handed the captaincy to Steve Smith.

RCB coach Daniel Vettori, who doubles as Brisbane Heat coach in the KFC Big Bash League, had said de Villiers would captain the team in Kohli's absence, but those plans were thrown out the window over the weekend.

Now Watson will take the reins, and will continue as skipper with de Villiers expected to return for the franchise's second match with Kohli set to miss a yet-to-be determined number of games.

"Shane has been one of the top performers and a great mentor for the team, making him an ideal choice to lead the team this season till Virat is back on field," RCB chairman Amrit Thomas said.

News of de Villiers injury was revealed by Cricket South Africa in a tweet ahead of that country's domestic one-day cup played over the weekend.

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De Villiers' scored a duck in his last match on March 23, but has travelled to Benguluru and trained with the RCB squad this week and is expected to feature in RCB's second game.

Vettori said he felt it prudent to give the South Africa star some additional time to rest.

"He still has some minor discomfort and we felt that couple of days off would be best before we have him back in action," Vettori said.

"We hope to see him on the field in good form by April 8 match against Delhi Daredevils."

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In a further injury blow for RCB, promising 19-year-old batsman Sarfaraz Khan had to be taken from the practice field on a stretcher after injuring his leg at training and will miss the entire season.

Sarfaraz became the youngest player to feature in the IPL on his debut with RCB and had been a run-scoring machine for India at U19 level.

RCB face Sunrisers Hyderabad in the season opener, where David Warner is expected to feature but will be a late arrival in India.

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"Warner is 100 per cent fit and will join the team shortly from Australia, where he is spending quality time with his family," Sunrisers coach Tom Moody was quoted as saying by Indian media.

Moody confirmed the Sunrisers are also expecting to welcome Bangladesh seam-bowling whizz Mustafizur Rahman over the weekend, after his national commitments in Sri Lanka have ended.

"At this stage, we are expecting him to come. We have not had any official word in any other way," Moody said.

"We are expecting him to be here on (April) 7th. Unless, we hear differently from BCB, we will continue to expect him."