Rajasthan Royals (RR) received a major boost on Monday after captain Steve Smith was declared fit to play in their IPL season opener against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Sharjah Stadium. The Australian batsman’s availability means he will, for the first time ever captain Rajasthan Royals, right from the start of a season.
“Yeah, I missed the last three ODIs in England. Yesterday I did a bit of zig-zag running, which is part of the protocols to pass to get back to play and today I’ll have a hit in the nets. Hopefully, pull up well from the hit and be good to play tomorrow,” Smith said.
“The guys have been here for a month now, and from all reports, the training’s been magnificent. It’s been good to catch up with both the old and the new Royals”, he added.
With Jos Buttler out of the season opener and uncertainty surrounding Ben Stokes’ participation, Smith’s news comes as a huge relief in the Rajasthan camp.
“Fantastic news that Steve is available. It’s fantastic especially on the back of some setbacks back in the UK. It’s obviously great to have your skipper available for the first game as I’ve said before we are in really good hands.” Rajasthan Royals head coach Andrew McDonald said.
Just before arriving in UAE, Smith spent most of his time in the ODI series against England on the sidelines after being hit on the head in practice, a day before the series opener. Though Smith passed every concussion test he took, he didn’t feature in any of the matches, citing ‘precautionary measure’.
However, when he turns up for the contest against CSK who are coming fresh off a win against Mumbai Indians, it is going to be an uphill task for the Australian and his team.
Rajasthan Royals’ head coach said, “They had a fantastic first game, they’re one game into the tournament which is a slight advantage when you come out against the team that’s already played and performed. So, we’ll definitely have our work cut out."
However, the Australian coach is hopeful that since his team has trained in the venue of the match, it gives their players a feel of the game from the middle in the nets.