Steve Smith will lead Rajasthan Royals for the remainder of the 2019 Indian Premier League, replacing Ajinkya Rahane. Rajasthan Royals take on Mumbai Indians at the Sawai Mansingh stadium and theywill be hoping to win all their remaining games in order to have a chance to reach the playoffs. Speaking about the appointment, Rajasthan Royals head of cricket Zubin Bharucha 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.”
Rahane led Rajasthan Royals to the playoffs in IPL 2018 which was their first season after they were banned for two years along with Chennai Super Kings for the spot-fixing scandal. For Smith, this is a comeback of sorts after he missed the previous season and was stripped of captaincy due to the ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in March 2018.
Rajasthan Royals have won only two out of the eight games in IPL 2019 and they will have to win the remaining games in order to have a chance of reaching the last four. A loss against Mumbai Indians at the Sawai Mansingh stadium could signal the end of their playoff hopes. Rajasthan Royals have endured a tough time at home in IPL 2019, winning just one game and losing four in what was once their fortress of Sawai Mansingh stadium.
Smith's one-year ban ended in March and he was included in the 15-man Australian cricket team squad for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. Smith, along with David Warner, who was also banned for the ball-tampering scandal have both been included. Warner has been in great form for Sunrisers Hyderabad, smashing a century against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Rajasthan Royals are currently in seventh spot with just four points from eight games. Chennai Super Kings are on top of the table. A win for Smith's side against Mumbai Indians will keep their playoff hopes alive. Rajasthan Royals are the inaugural IPL champions, having won the title in the first edition of the tournament in 2008.