Will welcome Steve Smith with open arms: Rajasthan Royals' skipper Ajinkya Rahane

"We all know how good Steve Smith is as a player."

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane of Rajasthan Royals. (Photo Source: Twitter)

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The year-long ban imposed on former Australia captain Steve Smith last year in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa left a lot of quarters affected. Smith was about to captain Rajasthan Royals (RR) after they returned to the tournament following a two-year suspension but could not and was replaced by Ajinkya Rahane. The Australian is now inching close to the end of his ban along with David Warner but doubt remained over his association with RR in the upcoming edition of the IPL.

Rahane, who is the vice-captain of India’s Test team, took to clear the air surrounding Smith at the launch of the outfit’s new pink kit on Monday. He said that he was looking forward to leading the Royals in the 2019 edition of the popular T20 tournament. The inaugural edition champions finished fourth last year after losing to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Eliminator at the Eden Gardens.

The Royals were left in a lot of discomforts last season after Smith, the only player they had retained from their previous squad, was banned and Rahane rose to the occasion. The Mumbai batsman was retained by RR this year and will lead the side again. Rahane, however, made the ambience easy by saying there will be no grudges against the former Australia captain who played for the same franchise in 2014 and 2015 and he will be welcomed with open arms on his return.

“We all know how good Steve Smith is as a player and what he did in the past for Royals and for Australian cricket. Mistakes can happen and Rajasthan Royals is a team that believes in backing players. Definitely, we will welcome Steve Smith with love because he is our player and he is one of our own. It is good to have him and I’m sure his inputs and experience will benefit us,” Rahane was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

Smith has played for a number of franchises in the IPL, scoring over 1,700 runs in 69 matches at an average of 37 and an impressive strike rate of over 131.

Smith is recovering from elbow injury at the moment

However, it is still not clear whether Smith will be playing in this year’s edition since he underwent an elbow surgery recently after sustaining an injury while playing in a match for Comilla Victorians in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) recently. He is also not certain to play for Australia in the ICC World Cup in England and Wales starting late May.

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