IPL 2019: Steve Smith replaces Ajinkya Rahane as Rajasthan Royals captainhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/ipl/steve-smith-rajasthan-royals-captain-ajinkya-rahane-5685768/

IPL 2019: Steve Smith replaces Ajinkya Rahane as Rajasthan Royals captain

Steve Smith will now lead Rajasthan Royals - replacing Ajinkya Rahane - with the side winning just two matches of eight played thus far.

Rajasthan Royals' Steven Smith bats during the VIVO IPL T20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai
Steve Smith will take over the captaincy duties for RR. (Source: AP)

Steve Smith has been appointed as captain of Rajasthan Royals for the remainder of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 season with Ajinkya Rahane stepping down from the responsibility. The announcement came just ahead of RR’s home game against Mumbai Indians at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur. In the statement, RR stated the decision came with the “franchise now thinks a fresh approach is needed to bring their 2019 campaign back on track.”

Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket for Rajasthan Royals, said, ‘Ajinkya is and will always be a true Royal. He led the team to the play offs in 2018 in a very challenging scenario and that will go down as one of the great comebacks of the IPL. He remains a key part of our side and leadership team and will extend support wherever required to Steve.”

“Steve is one of the most innovative and successful captains in the world, in all formats of the game. We are confident he can lead the Royals to success.” added Bharucha.

Rahane was named RR captain last season after Smith was barred from participating in the tournament owing to his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal with Australia. Last season, RR made the playoffs but have failed to replicate that performance this season.

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Royals currently stand seventh in the eight-team league with two wins out of eight matches played. With just four points from a possible 16 and realistically out of running for the playoffs, RR have made the change for the upcoming IPL matches.

Rajasthan’s only wins have come against Royal Challengers Bangalore (by 7 wickets on April 2) and Mumbai Indians (by 4 wickets on April 13) and have suffered defeats in all other matches – including most recently against Kings XI Punjab, by 12 runs, on Tuesday (April 16).