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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Steve Smith steps down as Rajasthan Royals captain over ball-tampering scandal

Australia captain is under growing pressure for his part in the incident during the third Test against South Africa

Steve Smith is facing calls to step down as Australia captain for his role in the ball-tampering incident against South Africa.  Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Steve Smith is facing calls to step down as Australia captain for his role in the ball-tampering incident against South Africa. Mike Hutchings / Reuters

Ajinkya Rahane was named captain of Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals on Monday, replacing embattled Australia skipper Steve Smith.

Smith, 28, is embroiled in a ball-tampering scandal that has earned the batsman a one match ban and a fine of 100 per cent of his match fee from the third Test against South Africa at Newlands. Australia lost the match by 322 runs to trail 2-1 in the four-match series.

The incident has led to widespread calls for Smith to be permanently stripped of the Australia captaincy, and while no decision has yet been made on his international future, he has been relieved of his duties with Rajasthan.

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Read more:

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“The incident in Cape Town has certainly disturbed the cricket world. We have been in constant touch with the BCCI and taken their counsel," Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket at Rajasthan, said in a statement. "Furthermore we have been in regular contact with Steve."

The statement added: "Steve believes given the current circumstances it’s in the best interest of the Rajasthan Royals that he steps down as captain so the team can get ready for the start of the IPL without the ongoing distractions. He would like to extend his gratitude to the BCCI officials and all the fans in India for their constant support."

Rahane, 29, is the vice-captain of India's Test team and joined Rajasthan in 2011 from Mumbai Indians. Following Rajasthan's two-year suspension, Rahane joined Rising Pune Supergiants for the 2016/17 season before returning to the side for the upcoming season.

“Ajinkya Rahane has been an integral part of the Royals family for a long time now and he understands the culture and values of our team," Bharucha said. "We have absolutely no doubt that he will be a great leader of the Rajasthan Royals.”