Heinrich Klaasen as replacement for Steven Smith might sound surprising, but Zubin Bharucha, Rajasthan Royals’ head of cricket, is absolutely certain it is the South African that they wanted.
“Our aim was to get someone who can play spin well because we are pretty sure that spinners will have a big role to play during the IPL,” Bharucha told TOI on Thursday (March 29) after sending a request for the South African to the BCCI.
“Klaasen is an amazing player of spin. And he has a vast array of shots, which tempted us to go for him. He plays the reverse sweep very well, something that will be quite useful in the IPL.” Bharucha admitted that the way Klaasen handled Indian spinners Yuzuvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav tilted the scales in his favour. “His strategy against them was just amazing,” Bharucha said.
Incidentally, wicketkeeper-batsman Klaasen was not in the South African team against India and was included only after regular wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock got injured. Although Royals have two quality wicketkeepers in Sanju Samson and Jos Butler, Klaasen will be a welcome addition. Bharucha was, however, very clear that the South African was being added to the squad for his skills with the bat only.
Royals did consider names like Joe Root and Hashim Amla, who seem to be ideal replacements for Smith, but Bharucha explained that they decided to go for a player who was completely different. “Smith will be back with us next year and we did not want to end up with two similar players. Our idea was to build the team keeping three years in mind. Even after Smith is back, Klaasen will be very useful for us.”
The best part of the deal is that 27-year-old Klaasen will cost them only Rs 50 lakh, his base price. Klaasen was not among the initial 578 in the auctions, but was called up in the extended list. With Royals retaining Smith for INR 12.5 Crore, it would appear that the Royals have made a huge saving. Bharucha clarified that the amount will be blocked for Smith when he joins the team next year.