New Delhi: In the aftermath of the recent ball tampering controversy which forced Australia skipper Steve Smith to step down, his IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals on Monday also stripped Smith of the captaincy and named Ajinkya Rahane to lead the side in the upcoming Indian Premier League.
The Royals, returning to the IPL fold after serving a two-year ban on charges of corruption, had on Sunday sought time to take a final call ahead of the start of the 11th edition of the cash-rich league.
"Ajinkya Rahane has been an integral part of the Royals family for a long time now and he understands the culture and values of our team. We have absolutely no doubt that he will be a great leader of the Rajasthan Royals," the team's head of cricket Zubin Bharucha said in a statement.
"The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricketing world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel. Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Smith."
"It's in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that Smith steps down as captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions." he added.
Welcoming Rahane as the captain of the team, Ranjit Barthakur, executive Chairman, Rajasthan Royals, said: "Ajinkya Rahane has stepped up as a leader whenever he has been given the opportunity, be it for India or at Rajasthan Royals."
"We consider him the right candidate to lead the side this crucial season when the team is coming back to the IPL after two years. We wish him all the best.
"Governance and security are the prime policies that we as a franchise have taken into consideration and hence Rajasthan Royals' management is working towards deploying the best of governing and security methodologies to deliver the very best for the game of cricket in Jaipur," added Barthakur.
Rajasthan Royals will launch their season with an away fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 9 followed by their first home game in Jaipur on April 11 where they will host Delhi Daredevils at Sawai Mansingh stadium.
The IPL starts April 7 with Mumbai Indians facing Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai.