Rahane will lead the Rajasthan Royals side in the Indian Premier League 2018 © BCCI
Steven Smith, Australian skipper, has stepped down as captain of Rajasthan Royals for the upcoming 2018 IPL season, in the wake of his confession to premeditated ball-tampering in the third Test played between Australia and South Africa in Newlands. Ajinkya Rahane, the India batsman, will now take over the mantle of leading the side.
Zubin Bharucha, Royals’ head of cricket, confirmed the news via a media release on Monday (March 26).
Smith admitted to his role in the episode after the third day’s play in Newlands and as a result, he stood down as the skipper for the rest of the Test and was then handed out a one-Test ban by the ICC. But the repercussions as expected seem to be never ending, with Smith stepping down from his position as the captain of Royals’ franchise.
“The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricketing world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Steve,” Bharucha said.
Bharucha also stated that it was Smith’s decision to step down from the position “in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals” and ensure that “the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions.”
Royals’ head of cricket also pointed out that they had a readily available captaincy choice in Rahane, who has been with the franchise for a long period. The veteran was picked up by the Royals in January 2011 under the uncapped basket. Since then, he has been a prolific run-getter for the franchise.
His best performance for the franchise came in 2015 when he notched up 540 runs at a healthy average of 49.09. When Royals were suspended for the 2016 and 2017 IPL seasons following a probe into illegal betting and match-fixing, he joined Rising Pune Supergiant. Rahane showed his class and quality by compiling 480 runs and 382 runs during those two seasons. He has aggregated 3057 runs at 33.59 in his IPL career so far. The franchise picked up Rahane for INR. 4 crore by using the right-to-match card in the 2018 auction.
“Ajinkya Rahane has been an integral part of the Royals family for a long time now and he understands the culture and values of our team. We have absolutely no doubt that he will be a great leader of the Rajasthan Royals,” Bharucha noted.
“Ajinkya Rahane has stepped up as a leader whenever he has been given the opportunity, be it for Team India or at Rajasthan Royals. We consider him the right candidate to lead the side this crucial season when the team is coming back to the IPL after two years. We wish him all the best,” Ranjit Barthakur, Executive Chairman of the franchise said.