Steve Smith being release by Rajasthan Royals (RR) was one of the big talking points when the player retentions list was out. Over the years, the former Australian captain has been a huge part of the RR setup. Moreover, he had been doing well in the IPL too. He had piled on in excess of 300 runs in the last two seasons and he was leading the side pretty well.
Also Read: The Genius of Steve Smith
However, RR decided to let Smith go and hand over the reins to Sanju Samson. Smith has been a big part of the IPL since 2012. He has averaged in excess of 25 every season and only twice has his season aggregate been under 200 runs (in 2013 and 2014 when he played 7 and 10 games respectively). For RR alone, he amassed 1070 runs averaging 30.57 at a strike-rate of 126.93.
It was back in 2014 the last time Smith was in the auction pool. He was bought by Rajasthan Royals for INR 4 crore. However, since then, he has always been a part of the draft. He was drafted into the Rising Pune Supergiant team in 2016 before RR picked him again in 2018 as a part of the draft.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK)
Historically, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) don’t like to chop and change too much. But this time, they have released six players, including Shane Watson who retired at the end of the 2020 season of the IPL. That is the only overseas slot available for CSK and there is a lot of talk around who should fill that.
Looking at the squad, CSK have three overseas all-rounders and as many overseas bowlers. The only overseas batting option that the three-time champions have is Faf du Plessis. Hence, to add some solidity to that, Steve Smith can be a good option. He is an excellent player of spin and can bat anywhere in the top four.
Moreover, Smith brings a lot of experience to the table as well. Smith and MS Dhoni played together for a couple of years at RPS (2016 and 2017) and hence, once Dhoni bids adieu to the IPL too, Smith could well be the captain CSK are looking for. CSK also have the funds to go all out for Smith as well as they have a purse of INR 19.9 crore.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
Glenn Maxwell was Kings XI Punjab’s big release ahead of the IPL 2021 auctions. He was one of the huge disappointments of the 2020 season and he frees up an overseas slot and a batting option in the middle-order. KXIP might need someone like Steve Smith in their ranks.
Smith could possibly fit in at No. 3 or 4 depending on how KXIP line-up. He plays spin well, can hit the pacers a long way and runs hard between the wickets. The pitch at Mohali will suit his style of batting as well. Moreover, he brings in a lot of experience and with KL Rahul having spent just one season as captain, the former Australian skipper could aid the Karnataka lad.
What’s more is that KXIP have five overseas slots available and they have the biggest purse going into the auction – INR 53.2 crore. Thus, Smith could add a lot of value to this KXIP side.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Steve Smith and Virat Kohli in one team? It may well be a possibility. Royal Challengers Bangalore released as many as 10 players ahead of the auctions for the 2021 IPL season. That included Australian white-ball skipper Aaron Finch who had a mediocre season with RCB in 2020. RCB have retained just four frontline batsman – Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal and Joshua Philippe.
Hence, they will be out in search of batsmen in the auction. With three overseas slots to be filled, Smith could well be one of their targets. The addition of Smith could allow Kohli to move up and open the batting alongside Devdutt Padikkal. It is a spot that has brought Kohli a lot of success and Smith could control the game from No. 3 with de Villiers coming in at No. 4 or 5 depending on the situation of the game.
RCB have the purse as well to go after Smith is there is a bidding war. They currently have INR 35.7 crore going into the auction.