India fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who went unsold at the auction in February, has been picked by Kings XI Punjab as a late purchase one day before the start of the tournament. Virender Sehwag, Kings XI's head of cricket operations, confirmed Ishant was a replacement for batsman M Vijay, who will miss the IPL because of wrist and shoulder injuries that he played with for a better part of India's long home season.*
Kings XI play their first match on April 8, against Rising Pune Supergiant, the franchise Ishant represented last season.
"I share a strong bond with Ishant Sharma as he played under my captaincy in the Ranji Trophy and later in the India team. His addition will most definitely strengthen our squad," Sehwag stated in a release.
Kings XI's pace attack already comprises Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Varun Aaron, Anureet Singh, Matt Henry and T Natarajan, who was bought for INR 3 crore at the auction.
Ishant played four IPL matches last year, taking three wickets at an average of 49.33 and an unimpressive economy rate of 9.86. He struck with his first ball last IPL - trapping Rohit Sharma lbw - but could not maintain the form later on, leaking runs in every match he played. Overall, Ishant has previously represented four franchises so far - Kolkata Knight Riders, Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Supergiant. In terms of wickets, his best season was 2013 in which he played 16 matches for Sunrisers and collected 15 wickets with an economy rate of 7.81.
*7.50GMT, April 5: M Vijay's injury update has been added.