IPL 2019: Steve Smith ready to work his magic in Jaipur for Rajasthan Royals

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Steve Smith said he was excited to play in Jaipur with Rajasthan Royals for the first time since signing up with them in 2014. Smith made his first foray into the Indian Premier League in 2012 when he was bought by Pune Warriors in 2012. After two seasons with the Warriors, Steve Smith moved to the Royals in 2014 but he ended up playing a few games in the Middle East due to the general elections.

Steve Smith returns the Royals dressing room after serving out a one-year suspension because of his role in the ball-tampering scandal. His Australian teammate and one-time vice-captain David Warner also joined up with the Sunrisers Hyderabad who made it to the final in 2018 and ran into a red-hot Chennai Super Kings.

This will be the first time Steve Smith will actually play in front of the Jaipur crowd at Sawai Mansingh Stadium as a Rajasthan Royals player. He did not get to play the IPL last year – BCCI did not allow neither Smith nor Warner to join the IPL after they were found guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct in the Cape Town Test.

Ricky Ponting has warned both David Warner and Steve Smith to brace for some hostile reception in England during the World Cup. Both men will be integral to Australia’s chances as they seek to defend the world title and England as Australia’s oldest cricketing rival is unlikely to be a particularly pleasant venue for Smith and Warner’s return to international cricket after what is possibly the darkest chapter in the history of Australian cricket.

However, Steve Smith can expect Jaipur to be far more friendly. When thousands throng the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on March 26 for the Royals’ season opener against Kings XI Punjab, they would want to catch a glimpse of Smith, Virat Kohli’s greatest rival.

Steve Smith himself is keen to make a mark and show the world he has lost none of his magic and class. “Rajasthan Royals are a great franchise.. great people and hopefully we have a great year,” Smith told Rajasthan Royals during a live chat on their social media platforms.

Understandably, Steve Smith is pumped up about playing in the Royals’ den. In 2016 and 2017, Smith played with Rising Pune Supergiant after the Royals were banned for two years following the spot-fixing scandal of 2013.

“It will be great – never got the chance to play in Jaipur with the Royals.. I am sure the fans will come out in big numbers and support us,” Smith said.

In 69 IPL matches, Steve Smith has scored 1703 runs including a hundred. Smith’s best IPL season came in 2017 with Supergiant in 2017 – he scored 472 runs in 15 matches after RPS sacked MS Dhoni and named him captain.

Steve Smith’s career took a nosedive at the start of 2018. The ball-tampering row meant he was out of the Australian cricket team for a whole year. Soon after Cricket Australia announced their quantum of punishment, BCCI decided they would not allow the two Aussie stars to play the IPL.

A year later, all is well with the cricket world again as two of its most celebrated players return to the fold – Steve Smith would want to regale Jaipur with something special this summer.

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