Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

IPL

IPL 2020: Steve Smith cleared to lead Rajasthan Royals in their season opener

Australian batsman recovers after displaying concussion symptoms ahead of match against Chennai in Sharjah

Steve Smith has been passed fit to captain Rajasthan Royals in their opening match of the IPL against Chennai Super Kings in Sharjah on Tuesday.

Andrew McDonald, the Rajasthan coach, said his compatriot is available for selection, following his “setbacks back in the UK”.

Smith missed all three matches of Australia’s one-day international series against England in Manchester last week.

He showed symptoms of concussion after being hit on the helmet at nets ahead of the first match.

Although he was initially cleared to play ahead of the second match of that series, he was not selected as he reported feeling groggy at practice.

He travelled to the UAE immediately after the final match, as part of a contingent of Royals players involved in that series.

“It is fantastic news that Steve is available,” McDonald said.

“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.”

Smith said he felt well rested after his arrival in the UAE ahead of the tournament.

“I’ve been in Dubai for a couple of days now with some good rest and then got into a bit of running,” Smith said.

“Yesterday [Sunday] I did a bit of zig-zag running, which is part of the protocols to pass to get back to play.

“Today I’ll have a hit in the nets. Hopefully, I’ll pull up well from the hit, and be good to play tomorrow.”

Those players who arrived from the England-Australia series on a private charter flight, which also includes Jofra Archer, have completed their quarantine period.

Jos Buttler, will not be available for the first game, though. The England wicketkeeper arrived in Dubai from the UK separately with his family, and was unable to fast track his quarantine as a result.

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Youngest and oldest players at IPL 2020

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“We have got the bases covered and have some really good depth in the squad, and we’re really looking forward to seeing what it looks like in a real competitive match against CSK,” McDonald said.

“They had a fantastic first game [Chennai beat Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday].

“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, but we’re really looking forward to what our guys can bring to the table and we’re really excited about what the journey presents.”

Chennai also had some uplifting team news of their own to report.

Ruturaj Gaikwad returned to training with the side on Sunday evening at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

The 23-year-old batsman has been touted as a potential replacement for Suresh Raina, the India star who dramatically opted to return home before the IPL started, in the No 3 position for Chennai.

However, Gaikwad’s prospects of pushing for a place in the side were undermined when he tested positive for Covid-19.

Gaikwad was one of 13 personnel who tested positive on the final day of the six mandated days of quarantine on arrival at the start of the tour.

The only other player in that group, Deepak Chahar, was able to recover in time to take his place in the starting XI for the first match. In fact, he bowled the first ball of this season’s IPL.

However, Gaikwad’s return was delayed. As per the safety regulations, players who test positive have to isolate at a separate quarantine facility for 14 days before returning two negative tests on consecutive days.

Gaikwad is understood to have returned a number of positive tests, before his recovery was completed.

Updated: September 21, 2020 03:16 PM

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