Heinrich Klaasen likely to replace Smith at Rajasthan Royals

Klaasen — who made his international debut against India last month — could be a surprise element for the Royals; he would also be the second wicketkeeper after Sanju Samson.

Klaasen, who made his international debut against India last month, could be a surprise element for the Royals.   -  AFP

In T20 cricket, scripts change fast. It is no different off the field. Till Wednesday evening, there were speculations that Joe Root could replace Steven Smith at Rajasthan Royals, but now, the Jaipur-based franchise is believed to have chosen young South African stumper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL).

Though the franchise remains tight-lipped about the development, sources have confirmed that Royals made its choice clear to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“That’s how things stand now. It is now up to the BCCI to decide whether to give them the choice of players. The franchise, however, can choose some other names if this doesn’t work out,” a source stated.

While it is believed that another franchise, which has a slot open after losing out on a foreign recruit due to injury, could get the services of Root. But there is no clarity on that yet.

Klaasen — who made his international debut against India last month — could be a surprise element for the Royals; he would also be the second wicketkeeper after Sanju Samson. The 26-year-old South African was not in the list of 578 players who went under the hammer, but was a part of the extended list.

A final announcement, however, is expected in a day or two.

The Royals, which returns to the IPL fold after a two-year suspension, started its final camp at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Thursday, with most of the Indian players. The foreigners, barring Ben Stokes, will start coming in from Friday.

Stokes — the biggest foreign recruit of Royals — is expected to reach India in the first week of April. Shane Warne, Royals’ mentor, is supposed to join the side around the same time.

Meanwhile, Dishant Yagnik took charge as the franchise’s fielding coach.