Rahane: Excited to have Smith back and he is fit

There had been some talk about his elbow injury, but his captain at Rajasthan Royals, Ajinkya Rahane said he was fit and available for selection in the IPL.

Steve Smith (L) and Ben Stokes during a promotional event for the Rajasthan Royals.   -  PTI

Among the players who will be more in focus at this edition of the IPL is going to be Australian run-machine Steve Smith. He had to miss last year after being penalised for his role in the ball-tampering scandal and with the World Cup around the corner, he could not have hoped for a better platform than the IPL.

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There had been some talk about his elbow injury, but his captain at Rajasthan Royals, Ajinkya Rahane said he was fit and available for selection.

“It is good to have him back at the Rajasthan Royals, where he is part of the family,” Rahane said. “We are all excited to have him back. He missed out on a year, and he is as excited as we are.”

About the Royals’ chances of repeating 2008 – when they won the title for what would prove the only time – coach Paddy Upton expressed confidence, but he said the Twenty20 game had changed a lot during the last decade. “It is very different in 2019 to what was in 2008,” he said. “It has moved on significantly in terms of understanding and strategy.”

He said the element of luck was more at that time. “Now at the Royals, we are getting more and more professional,” he said. “We have left no stone unturned in our preparation. In terms of what we are in control of, we are exceptionally happy with what we are at the moment.”

Kings XI Punjab opener K.L. Rahul also looked happy when he looked back at the great season the team had last season, but he admitted the team could not keep up the momentum after being in the top half of the table. “We faltered towards the end and we have learnt from our mistakes,” he said.

He added he was looking forward to batting with Chris Gayle once again. “He is the best T20 player ever,” he said. “I have learnt him.”