Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith will leave the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after his team’s match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) slated for April 30 and will join the Australian team for World Cup preparation. Smith revealed this after Thursday’s game against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) which his side won by three wickets at the Eden Gardens here. Royals will also miss Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer in the remaining three games as the England internationals will join their national side in the training camp for the upcoming World Cup slated to be held from May 30.
“We lose a few players now. Jofra and Stokesy (Stokes) are off tonight, they go back to England now – two big holes to fill. I am here for 13 games. After the Bangalore one, I’ll be heading back. Hopefully, I can contribute and see if we can get few more wins,” said Smith in the post-match presentation ceremony. On Thursday, Royals secured their fourth win of the ongoing IPL edition and kept their chances afloat of making it to the playoffs. Chasing 176, Royals rode on some matured and skillful batting from Riyan Parag, who kept his calm and composure to see his side cross the line.
During the chase, the visitors were down in the dumps at 98/5 after 13 overs before 17-year old Parag — who was dropped on a duck by Sunil Narine (2/25) off his own bowling — came of age with a 31-ball 47 (5×4, 2×6). Archer also smacked a 12-ball 27 (2×4; 2×6) not out as Royals reached the target with four balls to spare. “We made it difficult for ourselves. We lost too many wickets in the middle section after a good start. Riyan Parag is an impressive young man. He played a very composed knock like a seasoned campaigner. There were great contributions from Gopal and Archer too,” Smith said.
Earlier, it was Varun Aaron who kept a check on KKR scoring, who despite a brilliant knock of 97 not out from their skipper Dinesh Karthik, managed to post 175/6 in their stipulated quota of 20 overs. Aaron (2/20), playing only his second game this season, had a brilliant new ball spell of 3-1-10-2 in which he clean-bowled Chris Lynn (0) and Shubman Gill (14) cheaply. “Varun Aaron was exceptional with the new ball,” said Smith while praising Aaron who had a brilliant opening bust while ending with the spell of (2/20).
Royals, standing seventh in the points table, will now host Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Saturday.