Former India skipper MS Dhoni has been replaced by Australia’s Steve Smith as the captain of Rising Pune Supergiants for the upcoming season of Indian Premier League (IPL). The decision comes on the eve of the player auction, on Sunday (February 19).Dhoni, who recently stepped down from captaincy of India’s limited-overs side, is the only player to have captained in every IPL match he has played. Despite being one of the better performers for the side last year, his personal form was on the wane; he had scored 284 runs in 12 innings at a strike-rate of 135.
In an interview to India Today, RPS team owner Sanjeev Goenka confirmed the development. “We have opted for Steve Smith as captain of RPS for the forthcoming IPL season. We wanted a young captain. We spoke to Steve Smith and he agreed. We have communicated the decision to Dhoni. He is a thorough professional. Dhoni and Smith share a great rapport. MS is ready to help him on the field.”
The 35-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who was chosen as the first player in the drafts by RPS last season, had led Chennai Super Kings to two consecutive IPL titles in 2010 and 2011, apart from winning the Champions League T20. He had turned CSK into one of the most lethal forces in T20 club cricket in the world.
However, he couldn’t find similar success with the Pune franchise in the last edition, with several players getting ruled out due to injuries at the start of the tournament. They finished second-last on the points table with only five wins to their credit. It was also the first time that Dhoni had failed to lead his side to the playoffs in IPL
In order to reverse their fortunes, Pune have also released as many as 11 players from the side and are expected to be active in the player auction.