Former Australia captain Steve Smith joined the Rajasthan Royals preparatory camp as he touched down in Jaipur on Sunday ahead of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 starting March 23.
Smith’s Australia teammate David Warner, meanwhile, joined the Sunrisers Hyderabad camp late evening on Saturday. Both Smith and Warner had met with the Australian senior national team in Dubai before arriving in India.
The duo, serving ball-tampering ban, were received with a warm welcome by their Australian teammates, who are gearing up for an ODI series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Notably, Smith and Warner had missed IPL 2018 which was held months after duo were handed one-year suspension for their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year. Smith and Warner will be free to play for their respective IPL franchises from the first week even as their ban expire on March 30.
Smith greeted the Royals’ fans in a video message posted by the IPL franchise. “Great to be back here in Jaipur with the Royals family, and I can’t wait for this year’s edition of the IPL to start,”
Former Royals’ captain and brand ambassador, Shane Warne has said Smith’s hunger to get back to his best will only benefit the former champions.
“Having Smith’s experience around and his hunger and passion as the only cricket that is before World Cup, will be a big thing for him. I have no doubt that Smith and Warner will get back to their best as they were before,” Warne had told The Press Trust of India.
Love playing in India: Smith
Both Warner and Smith had suffered elbow injuries during their Bangladesh Premeir League stints earlier this year but the duo is confident of getting fit in time for IPL 2019.
“I love playing in India. The IPL’s a terrific tournament and the elbow is tracking really well. I’ve been batting for the last two weeks and (am) able to play all shots, got my power back, so I am tracking really well and I’m just excited to play again,” Smith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.