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Steve Smith was made captain of Rajasthan Royals on Saturday, April 20, and he immediately produced a leader’s knock, scoring an unbeaten 59 to help his side beat Mumbai Indians by five wickets in IPL 2019.
It was a fine knock – he said he was hitting the ball “better and better” – but more than Rajasthan, this represents good news for Australia ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Smith was named in their 15-man squad earlier this week, but he hadn’t been in the greatest nick so far this IPL, and was even dropped from the side for their last outing.
However, captaincy seems to have brought out the best in him. “Feel like I’m getting better and better with the way that I’m hitting the ball,” he said. “More importantly, my mind is getting better and better with the decisions I’m making. I base my batting a lot around the decisions I make. I’m clear in my mind and I’m getting clearer and clearer the more I play.”
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) April 21, 2019
Smith was as surprised as anyone when he was made captain, though, and was at pains to stress that it wasn’t something he had hoped for or had seen happening midway through the season.
“The management called me in yesterday and said that they wanted me to captain the rest of the season,” Smith revealed. “I was surprised by the decision, but I’ve started well here, fortunately.”
In further good news for Australia, Smith said he was recovering well from his elbow surgery, even if, for the time being, he will need to play with heavy strapping on it.
Here’s the Aussie squad out to defend their World Cup title!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) April 15, 2019
“I still have to play quite heavily strapped,” he said. “There are still a few issues with throwing but I’m back throwing and getting there slowly. A couple of weeks later I should be able to throw at full pace, which is going to be nice.
“I haven’t quite enjoyed hiding in the field, that is not my way around things. I like to be in the action, and get in hot-spots and involved in the game. But the elbow is coming along nicely. Since I’ve been here in India, I haven’t felt any pain batting.”