Dhaka, Saturday   20 April 2019

Smith leads RR win in first game as captain

 Sports Desk daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 09:29 PM, 20 April 2019  

File Photo

File Photo

Steve Smith made an unbeaten 59 in his first match since being appointed Rajashtan Royals captain after they sacked Ajinkya Rahane.

He oversaw their pursuit of 162 to win by five wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Jaipur.

Australia batsman Smith, 29, was appointed Royals captain for last year's IPL but stood down following his year-long ban for ball tampering.

He returned to the Twenty20 competition this year after his ban ended in March.

India batsman Rahane was sacked after overseeing only two wins from the Royals' opening eight matches.

"Ajinkya Rahane did a fantastic job in leading the team to the play-offs last year. However, the franchise now thinks a fresh approach is needed to bring their 2019 campaign back on track," a Royals statement before Saturday's game read.

"Steve has always been part of the leadership team and Rahane will continue to be a key voice in the side, therefore the Royals see this as a small restructuring process to secure the results required to move up the table."

After England's Ben Stokes fell for a duck, Smith added 70 with 17-year-old Indian all-rounder Riyan Parag, who made 43 off 29 balls in only his second IPL game as Rajasthan won with five balls to spare.

Quinton de Kock scored a 47-ball 65 in Mumbai's 161-5.

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Royals and England batsman Jos Buttler has ended his spell at the IPL to travel home to be with his wife, Louise, for the birth of their first child.

Rajasthan will be further weakened by the departure of all-rounders Stokes and Jofra Archer next week to join up with the England squad for the one-day internationals against Ireland and Pakistan.

The IPL play-offs begin on 7 May, with the final on 12 May.

Smith is expected to be available until 1 May - when the Royals will have only one match left - before he heads to an Australia training camp to prepare for this year's World Cup in England and Wales.

Australia face England at Southampton on 25 May and Sri Lanka two days later in warm-up matches for the tournament.

The defending champions open their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on 1 June.