Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royals have appointed Steve Smith as their captain for the remaining matches of the 12th season of the tournament.
Smith will be replacing Ajinkya Rahane, who in the Australian's absence last season, had led the side to the play-offs. The franchise announced the decision ahead of their match against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, 20 April.
Rajasthan have only managed to win two out of their eight games so far. They now need to potentially win all their next eight games to have a shot at making the play-offs. Moreover, they will lose their England trio of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, who will depart from the league in the coming week to join the national squad as they begin their preparations for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 at home.
Smith has had a quiet IPL season himself, averaging 37.20 for his 186 runs and striking at 107.51. Rahane has managed to make his runs – 201 of them – at a quicker pace, striking at 133.11.
Zubin Bharucha, the head of cricket for Rajasthan Royals, said that Rahane would remain a part of the leadership team and would support Smith in his role.
"‘Ajinkya is and will always be a true Royal. He led the team to the playoffs in 2018 in a very challenging scenario and that will go down as one of the great comebacks of the IPL," he said. "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."