Kevin Pietersen will be unable to begin his post-England career today, as a finger injury keeps him out of Delhi Daredevils' first Indian Premier League game of the season.
Delhi are playing Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah on Thursday afternoon, the second game of this season's competition. Pietersen was due to captain Delhi, who secured his services in the IPL auction in February for a fee of £880,000. It would have been his first serious match since the fifth and final Ashes Test of the winter, which ended in Sydney on 5 January.
Pietersen's controversial sacking by the England and Wales Cricket Board in the wake of the Ashes whitewash has left him free to focus on Twenty20 cricket around the world. As well as being able to play in all of the IPL, he will be representing Surrey in the English T20 competition this summer and then the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League.
The injury, which he picked up while training at Surrey, has put paid to that. "Kevin is still a few days away, so he won't be considered for tomorrow," said Delhi assistant Eric Simons last night. "It is obviously a setback because he's an important player in our set-up and an important player in any team. It is a difficult situation.
"I think we'll take it one day at a time and see how it progresses each morning but he definitely won't be considered for tomorrow. He has done some work with the bat, some drills but nothing too strenuous. It's obviously as disappointing for him as it is for us."
Delhi could have done with Pietersen leading them against Bangalore, who have the strongest batting line-up in the competition, featuring captain Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers.
Pietersen is now racing to be fit for Delhi's second game, against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday afternoon. Dinesh Karthik will captain Delhi instead today.
Pietersen was fit enough this morning to tweet an "IPL captains selfie" with him, MS Dhoni, Kohli, Shane Watson, George Bailey and Shikhar Dhawan.
Kolkata began their season with a win last night, beating the Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the opening game of this year's competition. Kolkata batted first and scored 163 thanks to a second-wicket partnership of 131 between the legendary South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey.
Mumbai never looked like reaching the target after some excellent bowling from Kolkata. South Africa's Morne Morkel bowled with testing accuracy, his four overs going for just 16 runs, while West Indies mystery spinner Sunil Narine was almost unplayable, finishing with figures of 4 for 20 from his four overs. Mumbai ended their 20 overs on 122 for 7.