Two-time IPL champion Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have made up their mind to release Australian pacer Pat Cummins ahead of the upcoming mini-auction.

Cummins – the newly appointed Australia ODI captain – has informed KKR team owners that he won’t participate in the forthcoming IPL edition, reported Inside Sport on Monday.

Hence, before the cut-off date of the trading window, which is November 15, the Knight Riders have acquired the services of New Zealand speedster Lockie Ferguson. They traded him from current IPL champions Gujarat Titans (GT) in an all-cash deal, the details of which have not been disclosed.

Ferguson, who was signed for INR 10 crore at the mega-auction this year, played a key role for GT to lift the title in their inaugural season. He picked up 12 wickets in 13 games at an economy of 8.95 and best figures of 4 for 27. He also bowled the fastest ball of IPL 2022, clocked at 157.3kph, to Jos Buttler in the final.

Apart from Cummins, KKR will also release England’s wicketkeeper-batter Sam Billings and former Australia captain Aaron Finch. Billings has decided to pull out of IPL 2023 and will focus on his future in red-ball cricket.

“Have taken the tough decision that I won’t be taking part in the next IPL,” Billings tweeted on Monday.

“Looking to focus on longer format cricket at the start of the English summer with @kentcricket.”

The franchise is eyeing to sign England opener Alex Hales as an alternative for Finch. In the mega-auction that followed the competition, they signed Hales. However, he withdrew from the 2022 edition, citing bio-bubble fatigue.

KKR eventually signed Finch for ₹1.5 crores as a replacement player. He played five games over the course of the lukewarm campaign under Shreyas Iyer. With only 86 runs at a dreadful average of 17.20, Finch failed to cement his position in the playing XI amid constant changes by the team management.


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