India’s star batsman Ajinkya Rahane has replaced Australia’s Steve Smith as the captain of the Rajasthan Royals (RR) for the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Smith stepped down from captaincy in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal during the third Test between South Africa and Australia at Cape Town, where the Australia captain admitted to an orchestrated attempt to change the condition of the ball.
Rajasthan Royals, who is making a comeback to the IPL after a two-year suspension for corruption, had earlier announced Smith as their captain. However, a day after Smith stepped down temporarily from his post as Australia captain, the Rajasthan franchise also announced that he had resigned so that the team can get ready without any distraction.
“The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricketing world,” Royals head of cricket, Zubin Bharucha, said.
“We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore, we have been in regular contact with Steve.”
He added: “Steve believes given the current circumstances 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.”
Rahane has been a part of the Rajasthan franchise since 2011 before they were handed a two-year ban for their involvement in the 2013 spot-fixing scandal.
“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,” Barucha added.
Manoj Badale, the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, criticised the events that unfolded in South Africa.
“Rajasthan Royals will do everything possible to protect the values and the integrity of the game,” Badale said.
“We agree with Steve’s decision to step down as captain, and we are fortunate to have such a capable successor with Ajinkya Rahane.”
He added, “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.”
Rajasthan Royals will begin their IPL campaign with an away fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 9.