Ajinkya Rahane named as new Rajasthan Royals captain for IPL 2018 after Steve Smith steps down

  • Following his involvement in the ball tampering incident during the 3rd test match against SA, Steve Smith has decided to step down as the captain of Rajasthan Royals.
  • Ajinkya Rahane will be the new captain of Rajasthan Royals, who are making a return to the IPL after 2 years. 
  • Sunrisers Hyderabad are also likely to remove David Warner as the captain of their team, after he too was as asked to step down as the vice-captain of the Australian team

A day after Steven Smith’s removal as the captain of Australian cricket team following his admission of strategising to tamper with the condition of the ball during the 3rd test against South Africa, Rajasthan Royals have announced that Smith is stepping down from his position as the captain of the franchise. The Australian will be replaced by Indian middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane as the captain. Rajasthan Royals will be making a return to the Indian Premier League after serving two years of suspension. Unfortunately for the team, their decision to retain only Steve Smith from their previous squad back-fired just days away from their opening league game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on 9th April.

Sunrisers Hyderabad might also need to do some thinking after it became clear that their captain David Warner also had a big part to the play in the ball tampering incident. This controversy is expected to jolt both Steve Smith and David Warner not only on the field but off the field as reports have been coming in of their person and Australian team sponsors are reviewing the situation and might even terminate their contracts.

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In best interest of the team that Steven Smith steps down as the captain says RR management

Steven Smith, who lead the Rising Pune Supergiants to the Final of the IPL season 10 was going to be the centre around which the RR management were going to build their squad around. However, with the latest development, it’s currently unclear whether Smith will play any part in this years tournament. Speaking about the Steven Smith’s decision to step down as RR captain, Head of Cricket, Zubin Bharucha said, “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.”

He further clarified that in the given circumstances, Smith feels that “it’s in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that he steps down as captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions.”

Apart from being removed as the captain of the Australian national team, Steven Smith was also banned for one match by the ICC and fined 100% of his match fees. While Cameron Bancroft, who was actually responsible for finishing the task, was fined 75% match fees and received 3 demerit points.

Bharucha also took time out to welcome Ajinkya Rahane as the captain for IPL 2018 season. Praising the Indian international, Bharucha said, “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.”

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Following their suspension of 2 years, owners can’t afford negative publicity any more

Rajasthan Royals return to the IPL 2018 after serving a suspension of 2 years, levied on them by the Supreme Court following irregularities with their financial books. The team wants the fans to forget the turmoil of the past few years and enjoy the game again, hence it was highly unlikely that they would continue with Steve Smith after his astonishing press conference after Day 3 in the 3rd test match.

Speaking after announcing Steven Smith decision to step down and handing over the captaincy to Ajinkya Rahane, RR co-owner Manoj Badale said, “Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game. We agree with Steve’s decision to step down as captain, and we are fortunate to have such a capable successor with Ajinkya Rahane. It is important that all cricket fans retain a balanced perspective on the situation. What happened in South Africa was clearly wrong, especially given that it appears to have been pre-meditated. That said, this will be a difficult time for Steve as well, given how much he cares about the game.”

Ajinkya Rahane has spent quite a bit of time with the Rajasthan Royals team, before moving to RPS during their suspension period. He is well aware of the conditions that the Sawai Mansingh Stadium has to offer and will be much more knowledgeable about the young Indian players who have made into the RR Squad 2018.

Executive Chairman of Rajasthan Royals, Ranjit Barthakur welcomed Ajinkya Rahane into his new role and said, “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.”

The Indian Premier League season 11 kicks on 7th April with defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium.

READ: Steve Smith and David Warner set to lose sponsorship deals after ball tampering scandal

READ: Australian Prime Minister wants ‘decisive action’ against Steve Smith and co. for ‘cheating’

 WATCH: Rajasthan Royals official anthem for IPL 2018 


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