Knight Riders replace Russell with de Grandhomme

'Let Kuldeep be the way he is' - Gambhir (4:33)

Gautam Gambhir speaks about Kolkata Knight Riders' prospects in the upcoming IPL season and Kuldeep Yadav's rise (4:33)

Kolkata Knight Riders have bought New Zealand allrounder Colin de Grandhomme as a replacement for Andre Russell, who is currently serving out a one-year ban for a doping-code violation.

De Grandhomme, a medium-pace bowler and a lower-order batsman, made his debut for New Zealand in February 2012. In seamer-friendly conditions, he is capable of generating enough lateral movement to trouble the batsman despite his leisurely pace of 120 kph. He took 6 for 41 in his first Test against Pakistan in November last year. Making him a value addition is his batting strike-rate in all T20 cricket - a whopping 171 after 91 innings.

Considering a relaid Eden Gardens pitch afforded surprising assistance to the fast bowlers in its first international match, Knight Riders appear to be stocking up on pace bowling options. They already have Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile, both known for generating swing and seam.

Despite the reinforcement, Knight Riders would feel Russell's absence. He was an important part of their title-winning run in 2014 and was Man of the Tournament in 2015.

"We are not on the back foot," the allrounder Yusuf Pathan said. "Russell was an important cog in our wheel not only on-field, but in the dressing room also. He is a great character to have. There are situations when players miss out. He will be missed in the dressing room. But we have to look ahead and work with what we have."

Captain Gautam Gambhir echoed similar sentiments. "Either we can see Russell's absence as a challenge or look at it as an opportunity in bold letters," he told PTI. "I as an individual, and KKR as a group, are looking it as an opportunity."

Knight Riders begin their IPL campaign on April 7 against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot