Tim Southee replaces Pat Cummins at Kolkata Knight Riders

Tim Southee appeals during his wicketless spell Associated Press

Kolkata Knight Riders have roped in senior New Zealand seamer Tim Southee as a replacement for Australia's Pat Cummins, who has opted out of the second leg of IPL 2021, to be played in the UAE from September 19.

Southee is the third-highest wicket-taker in T20I cricket, with 99 strikes in 83 games at an economy rate of 8.39, but his New Zealand team-mate Lockie Ferguson could potentially be the frontrunner to slot in for Cummins in the Knight Riders' XI if he recovers from Covid-19 in time. Ferguson had tested positive in the UK earlier this week and was subsequently ruled out of Yorkshire's Vitality Blast quarter-final against Sussex. In all, Southee has picked up 224 wickets in 201 T20 games.

Southee has been part of the Rajasthan Royals, the Chennai Super Kings, the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past. He will now reunite with his former captain Brendon McCullum, who is now the Knight Riders' head coach.

"We are delighted to have Southee in our ranks," McCullum said in a team statement. "He is a proven match-winner and a welcome addition to the already strong pace attack of KKR. With Cummins being unavailable we wanted to add experience and leadership to our bowling group and Southee is the ideal man for the job."

Cummins was snapped up by the Knight Riders for INR 15.5 crore (US$ 2.2 million approx.) in the IPL 2020 auction, and had been a key member of the side since. In the first half of this year's IPL in India, before Covid-19 cases in many of the squad bubbles forced a postponement, Cummins had played each of the Knight Riders' seven games, taking nine wickets and scoring 93 runs, including a career-best 66 not out that gave the Super Kings a scare in Mumbai.

The Knight Riders, currently one spot off the bottom of the table with four points from seven games, will resume their campaign against the Royal Challengers in Abu Dhabi on September 20.