Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Chandrakant Pandit is hoping that their full time skipper Shreyas Iyer will return to action "very soon" and until then, he expects Nitish Rana to do well in the high-pressure leadership role. (More Cricket News)
A recurring back injury is likely to keep Iyer out of action for the first half of the IPL. He had also missed the first and fourth Test against Australia due to the persistent back issues.
"Whatever little cricket I have played or coached, I have never gone back over things like squad unavailability. Shreyas' absence will make a difference since he is important, but this is truly unfortunate.
"We are hoping Shreyas will be back very soon and that will make a lot of difference to the team," Pandit said on Tuesday night.
Stand-in captain Rana is an experienced campaigner and has been part of the KKR set up for the last five seasons.
Pandit is supremely confident of Rana's leadership abilities.
"When we select players and give responsibility to players, we see who is capable. And Nitish is capable. He has been with KKR for a long time and also has a strong domestic record. Like they say, 'all boxes to be ticked' and it has come down to that.
"I am comfortable knowing he can handle the role. We don't see whether someone is deserving or not. Every player has different skills, and after thinking about what Nitish brings to the table, we are confident with the decision.
"This decision is not just my decision but of the whole support staff, including our management."
Pandit has achieved remarkable success as a coach in domestic cricket but he said IPL will be a different ball game.
"Challenges are everywhere. This is also one, but it is a challenge of a different kind. After domestic cricket, to come here where there are experienced international-level players with different reputations is a different challenge.
"I have already said that the players we have, many of them have been playing for their country and are experienced players. Ultimately, the game is not different, only the format is.
"As long as any team plays as a unit, it will make a difference. A united group of players always make a difference," he added.