IPL 2018: HEINRICH KLAASEN NAMED AS STEVE SMITH'S REPLACEMENT FOR RAJASTHAN ROYALS

Attacking South African batsman Heinrich Klaasen was on Monday announced as the replacement for banned Steve Smith in Rajasthan Royals’s squad for 11th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL). Smith, who was supposed to lead the Royals, was banned by the BCCI from participating in IPL 2018 after Cricket Australia announced serious sanctions on Smith and David Warner, banning the senior Australian duo for a period of 12 months after being found guilty in a spot-fixing scandal. Klaasen was in news recently, where he won massive praise with his fearless batting approach during the limited-overs series between India and South Africa earlier this year. Known for his innovative shot-making abilities, the RR outfit would hope the middle-order batsman could fill in the huge shoes of an established name like Smith.

The wicket-keeper batsman was picked for INR 50 lakh from the Registered and Available Player Pool (RAPP) list. With experience not by his side, he would be under some pressure to live up to the billing. The 27-year-old recently made his international debut against India in 50-over format and picked up the Man of the Match award in his only second ODI. He then made his debut in the shortest format of the game in the following three-match T20I series after impressing the South African selectors with his ingenious stroke play.

Klassen, in his short career so far, has given ample evidence of scoring runs at a brisk pace, particularly against spin bowling. His knack of reading googlies and wrong "uns" has earned him a call-up to the IPL and he would be eager to make his name count on the big stage. During the limited-overs series, Klassen unleashed a plethora of sixes against Indian spinners, showing nerves of steel against a quality bowling attack.

Earlier, Smith was banned for 12 months from International cricket by the Cricket Australia for being involved in the much-maligned ball-tampering scandal in the Cape Town Test against South Africa, along with teammates Warner and Cameron Bancroft. After being sent back from South Africa before the 4th Test, Smith apologised to fans in an emotional press conference. Smith will not be considered for any leadership roles by CA for the next 24 months.

Rajasthan Royals, who are making a comeback in the IPL after a gap of two years, will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match of IPL 2018. The Orange Army would also be without the services of Warner, with Kane Williamson being appointed as the new captain.