Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith is all set to return to action during his team’s opening Indian Premire League contest against Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday.
There were doubts over the former Aussie skipper’s participation in the game after a concussion injury sustained prior to One Day International series against England. Smith, who got hit on the head during net session before the first ODI in Manchester, missed the whole series on advice of Cricket Australia’s medical team.
Meanwhile, Jos Buttler will miss the opening game of the IPL as he remains in quarantine, having arrived separately with his family. Ben Stokes, who is currently in New Zealand with his family, will also remain unavailable although a timeline for his return is not known yet.
Here’s what Steve Smith said:
“Yeah, obviously missed the last three one-dayers in England. Been in Dubai for a couple of days now with some good rest and then got into a bit of running. Yesterday I did a bit of zig-zag running, which is part of the protocols to pass to get back to play and today I’ll have a hit in the nets. Hopefully, pull up well from the hit and be good to play [on Tuesday].
“The guys have been here for a month now and from all reports, the training’s been magnificent. It’s been good to catch up with both the old and the new Royals, we’re in a good place and have got a really good squad this year, really strong and we’re ready to get going.
“Chennai and Mumbai both have been two really strong teams for a long time now. We obviously watched a bit of the game the other night, the Super Kings played really well to get over the line in the end. Hopefully, we can put on a really good show and get our campaign off to a good start.
Here’s what Andrew McDonald (Head Coach) said:
“Fantastic news that Steve is available. It’s fantastic especially on the back of some setbacks back in the UK. It’s obviously great to have your skipper available for the first game as I’ve said before we are in really good hands. In terms of the rest of the squad, we couldn’t be happier with their preparation. We’ve got what we needed, having been here nice and early to get our preparation going on the back of the long lay-off.
“We have got the bases covered and have some really good depth in the squad and really looking forward to seeing what it looks like in a real competitive match against CSK. They had a fantastic first game, they’re one game into the tournament which is a slight advantage when you come out against the team that’s already played and performed. So, we’ll definitely have our work cut out and really looking forward to what our guys can bring to the table and we’re really excited about what the journey presents.
“We’ve trained at Sharjah a couple of times. Most of our players have got a really good feel for the surface. We’ve had some net practice in the middle which is always a positive rather than just nets out at the back. The guys have been able to feel what it’s like batting at the centre and have had plenty of fielding down there, so they are quite familiar with the stadium. Clearly a different surface to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in terms of runs and the size of the venue so it’ll create some difficult challenges there for the bowling unit so no question there being a high-scoring ground. But we feel the team will put out their best show to be able to combat what CSK will throw at us.”