After a few rounds of discussion, team Rajasthan's hierarchy decided not to retain their captain Steve Smith for the 2021 edition of the Indian T20 League. Smith has been with Rajasthan since 2014, and barring one season, 2018, where he was banned after the ball-tampering controversy in South Africa, the Australian batsman served as a captain right from 2015 to 2020. So it's given that his release ahead of the new season came as a shocker.
It is said that the team was unhappy with the substandard returns of the Aussie on the leadership front. However, he featured in all of the team's 14 games last season, accumulating 311 runs at a strike rate of 131, including three half-centuries. Now, there are chances that the team might go for him once again during the mini-auction. Still, the fact remains that if this is the plan they are going with, they ought to face probable competition from several other suitors. If not, then it is certain that the team is looking for an extensive T20 batsman who can deliver the good consistently.
That being said, we look at three teams who could be a perfect match for Smith.
Chennai finished right above Rajasthan in the 2020 Indian T20 League, and their struggle with the bat was made evident throughout the season. With Shane Watson and Murali Vijay no longer a part of the team, Chennai will hunt for a top-order batsman, which makes Smith a potential target during the auction. With a purse balance standing at INR 22.9 crore, Chennai will have a free hand while bidding too. Apart from Faf du Plessis, their foreign's batting contingent is next to vacuous. Having already played with MS Dhoni during his Pune stint, Smith sure knows a thing or two about the mindful tactician, and a potential reunion could rightly serve everyone's purpose.
Release Australia's limited-overs captain, Aaron Finch, and Parthiv Patel mean Bangalore will go all-out for a top-order batsman during February's mini-auction. The team has, in fact, just four frontline batsmen in Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, and Joshua Philippe. With as many as three overseas positions to be filled, one can see if the Bangalore hierarchy decides to go big for the Australian. The arrival of Smith will allow Bangalore to move Kohli up in the order with Padikkal, and the Aussie can then have his say at No. 3. Note that Kohli has had immense success in the league as an opener. It could well and truly be a win-win situation for every party involved.
Now, one might very well argue that Delhi have one of the finest batting contingents in the whole of the Indian T20 League. In Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, and Marcus Stoinis, they have some big hitters in the team, but the release of Alex Carey is something that the team will have to work on. The aforementioned names are arguably the purest hitters, but most of them lack composure and get carried away with emotions. This is where the Australian walks into the picture. In Smith, Delhi will not only gain an experienced batter, but will also get a world-class fielder. Furthermore, his ability to anchor the innings and play as per the situation will come in handy.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IPL