How Steve Smith’s injury will affect RR in IPL & Australia in World Cup

After a reasonably successful return to the IPL last season, the Rajasthan Royals, who finished fourth in the IPL points table in 2018, will look to push their performance to match what they did in the first ever season back in 2008 – when they won the title by beating the Chennai Super Kings in the final.

However, even before they could kick-start this season, Royals are already in great turmoil with Steve Smith’s elbow injury. Rajasthan Royal, now, has been tasked to find a suitable replacement for their former skipper. They had called up Heinrich Klaasen last year but released him later as Smith was confirmed to make a comeback on March 28 this year after the completion of his 12-month ban following the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal. His addition to the squad would have been a huge bonus.

Nevertheless, Ajinkya Rahane has been retained and he can be expected to skipper the side along with Ben Stokes who has been retained till the end of the season as well. Also retained are some Indian youngsters who will be fighting to become the next big things in Indian cricket – these include off-spinning all-rounder K Gowtham, hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson, leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal and top-order batsman Rahul Tripathy who was the toast of the season in 2017.

The former captain, who is unable to hold a leadership position until 2020, had also talked about the possibility of a return to international action for Australia in England, adding he would be ready to face the "incredibly hostile" home crowd if he were back in the fold.

The ICC World Cup 2019 opens with hosts England against South Africa at The Oval on May 30. But Smith’s elbow injury may hamper his return to international cricket, putting his World Cup aspirations in jeopardy.

Following the ligament problem in his right elbow which forced him to stop playing for the Comilla Victorians in the Bangladesh Premier League, it remains to be seen how much recovery time the 29-year-old will now face. Cricket Australia revealed Smith is set to undergo surgery on January 15 and is expected to be in a brace for around six weeks, followed by a period of rehabilitation.

But a six-week minimum rehabilitation period would potentially put his return back. Selectors have to pick a 15-man World Cup squad by April 23 and may need to select Smith and hope he’s fit for the tournament which begins for Australia on June 1st against Afghanistan in Bristol.

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