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St Lucia Kings expect du Plessis to be fit for their CPL opener

Head coach Andy Flower also expects Keemo Paul and Obed McCoy to be available for their first game

Deivarayan Muthu
23-Aug-2021
Faf du Plessis has a breather during his half-century, Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2021, Mumbai, April 21, 2021

Faf du Plessis last played a game in early June  •  BCCI/IPL

St Lucia Kings head coach Andy Flower has hinted that Faf du Plessis is set to return to action in the franchise's CPL opener against Jamaica Tallawahs on August 27. du Plessis had been sidelined from the entire Hundred competition after having not adequately recovered from the concussion that had forced him to miss a chunk of the PSL as well.
"He's had his own personal fitness challenges just recently with his concussion issues," Flower said during a virtual media interaction. "But he's on a back-to-play programme that should see him ready for our first match. We hope and pray that he's obviously fit for his own good but also for ours. There's no 100% guarantee about that, but that's what we're planning for. "
du Plessis had suffered the initial concussion when his head collided with his Quetta Gladiators team-mate Mohammad Hasnain's knee during a game against Peshawar Zalmi at the PSL in Abu Dhabi in June. The injury subseqeuently put him out of the remainder of the tournament and he returned to South Africa shortly after, and then travelled to Croatia to quarantine ahead of the Hundred.
du Plessis was originally scheduled to captain Northern Superchargers, before Ben Stokes and David Willey took over the responsibilities. du Plessis will now lead St Lucia Kings in the Caribbean before reuniting with Chennai Super Kings in the second leg of the IPL, which will restart four days after the CPL ends on September 15. He was in particularly strong form in the first leg of the IPL, rattling off 320 runs in seven innings at an average of 64 and strike rate of 145.45.
Seam-bowling allrounder Keemo Paul, who has moved from Guyana Amazon Warriors, and left-arm seamer Obed McCoy are also fitness concerns for Kings. Paul has not been in contention for West Indies selection after suffering a groin injury last year; he hasn't played any competitive cricket since the BBL last December. As for McCoy, he was pulled out of the West Indies squad for the last two T20Is against Australia in July after suffering a niggle. Flower also expected the pair to be available for Kings' first game on Friday.
"I'm yet to meet up with him [Paul] and yet to get a very clear update on his fitness, but he's going to play a part in the tournament and there's no doubt about that," Flower said. "And I expect him to play some match-turning performances as well. Again, I'm yet to catch up with Obed and our physio will be coming in with the [Test] contingent this evening from the second Test match... I anticipate Keemo Paul and Obed being fit for the first match."
The Kings' new recruit Samit Patel, however, will not be available for the start of the CPL. The England and Trent Rockets allrounder will only link up with them after playing in the Vitality Blast knockouts for Nottinghamshire.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo