Ajinkya Rahane has cleared the air surrounding the return of banned Australian captain Steven Smith to the Rajasthan Royals’ setup at the launch event of their new pink kit on Monday. Rahane further added that he is looking forward to leading the side in the upcoming 2019 edition of the IPL.
Rajasthan Royals were left in limbo last year, as they were without marquee signing and the only player they retained from their previous squad - Steven Smith. Smith was handed a 12-month ban after he was found guilty of being involved in the ball-tampering incident in South Africa in the early stages of 2018.
Ajinkya Rahane rose to the challenge as he guided the Royals to a respectable fourth place finish as they made the play-off stage upon their return to the cash-rich tournament. Rahane was retained by the franchise this year and will lead the team once again in the upcoming edition of the tournament.
The Indian Test vice-captain added that there will be no grudges against Smith and the latter will be welcomed back into the team with open arms.
"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 told Hindustan Times.
Rahane, who scored 370 runs from 15 matches last season, added that he was eager to resume his role as captain of the Rajasthan-based franchise and will look go all the way in the competition this year.
"My experience was really good. When I got to know that I am going to lead Rajasthan Royals, I was so happy. All thanks to the management and Shane Warne who recommended my name since Smith was not available. Being a captain I really learned a lot. Our team did really well
"This year it is going to be all about being consistent. Royals have always been known for playing fearless cricket and backing their players. It’s very important to start well in any tournament and I’m sure we will do that," Rahane added.
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