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IPL 2018: Ajinkya Rahane replaces Steve Smith as Rajasthan Royals captain

Steve Smith stepped down as the captain of IPL team Rajasthan Royals(RR) 'so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions', the franchise confirmed on Monday.

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Ajinkya Rahane will replace Smith as captain for IPL 2018, which starts from April 7. With 2333 runs in 72 innings, Rahane is the second most successful batsman for the Jaipur-based franchise after Shane Watson (2474). At this year’s IPL player auction, the 29-year-old was purchased by Royals for Rs 4 crore via one of their Right-to-Match cards.

Rahane started his IPL career with Mumbai Indians in 2008 but played for the Royals from 2011 to 2015 until the franchise was suspended for two seasons by the BCCI.

It was at Rajasthan under the mentorship of Rahul Dravid that Rahane really evolved as a batsman and succeeded as an opener. Rahane’s success story with the Royals commenced in 2012 as he hit a match-winning 98 against Kings XI Punjab in his first game of IPL 5 and hit the first century of that IPL season – an unbeaten 103 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Rahane emerged as the leading run-scorer for the Royals in that season due to his exploits with the bat.