IPL 2021: Sanju Samson named captain as Rajasthan Royals release Steve Smith
IPL 2021: Rajasthan Royals (RR) have released skipper Steve Smith going into the mini-auction ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
The franchise confirmed the news on Wednesday, while it also named Sanju Samson its new skipper for the 14th edition of the tournament. RR thanked the Australian for his contribution over the years. "Forever a Royal...Growing heart. Some special memories Smudge," wrote RR along with a picture of Smith.
The Australian, who first joined RR in 2014, scored 1,070 runs in 43 innings at an average of 30.57. Last year, not only did Smith had a poor tournament on the personal level as he scored only 311 runs in 14 matches but also saw his side finish at the bottom of the IPL 2020 table.
"Yes, Smith has been released. It went down to the wire, to be honest. We had discussions on the matter and the call was taken today itself," a RR source told ANI.
The 31-year-old Aussie made his IPL debut in 2012 with Pune Warriors. He had a great first season in the tournament, where he had scored 362 runs in 15 matches at an average of 40.22. After the Pune side dissolved, RR had roped in Smith in 2014. When RR was suspended for two seasons, Smith played for another Pune franchise – Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS). Overall, Smith has played 95 IPL matches and has scored 2,333 runs at 35.34 with one century and 11 half-centuries.
Meanwhile, RR have also appointed Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara as their team director.
"It's an absolute honour to have been announced as the captain of Rajasthan Royals. It's a team that is so close to my heart, which I've been lucky enough to play for over the years, and I'm excited about the challenge that lies ahead of me as the leader of the team.
The Royals have had some wonderful captains over the years and I'm so grateful for all the time I've spent working with and learning from great leaders like Rahul Dravid, Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith!! I now cannot wait to get started and look forward to the season ahead," Samson says in a Rajasthan Royals media release.
Samson, who kickstarted his IPL journey with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2013, has overall played 107 matches in the cash-rich T20 tournament and has accumulated 2,584 runs with 102 not out being his highest score so far. The young Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman recently led his state team in the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali domestic tournament.