#IPL2017: MS Dhoni sacked as RPS captain, Smith takes over – A press statement by RPS suggested Dhoni was sacked as captain, something that even the BCCI could not think of doing towards the end of his glorious 10 years at the helm
India’s most successful captain has also enjoyed success in the Indian Premier League (IPL) like no other captain. For the first time since the IPL began nine years ago, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will not captain a team in the cash-rich T20 league this April-May.
Dhoni was on Sunday sacked as captain of the Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) a day before the IPL auctions in Bengaluru. The 35-year-old has been replaced by Australia captain Steve Smith to take over the reins for this year’s tournament starting on April 5.
A press statement by RPS suggested Dhoni was sacked as captain, something that even the Board of Control for Cricket in India could not think of doing towards the end of his glorious 10 years at the helm.
For the first time in his IPL years as captain, Dhoni failed to take his team to the playoffs last year, RPS finishing seventh in the eight-team league last year.
Only on January 4 this year did Dhoni announce his decision to step down from India’s limited-overs captaincy to enjoy his last months in international cricket without the extra burden and bat with freedom.
And on Sunday, RPS owner Sanjiv Goenka said in a statement: “I have the highest regard for MS Dhoni as a leader and a person. Dhoni will continue to be an important part of our team. He is supportive of the decision keeping the franchisee’s best interests in mind.\”
DNA’s repeated attempts to get further clarification from the RPS management went in vain with an insider saying to DNA that a “statement was being issued”.
Having led the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings to two titles, four runners-up, one semifinalist and one play-off finishes, Dhoni averted the embarrassment of a last-place finish for RPS last year. With five wins from 14 matches, RPS were one place above Kings XI Punjab, the last-ball six over mid-wicket by Dhoni off Axar Patel in Visakhapatnam helped RPS finish off in style an otherwise forgettable maiden season for the new franchise.
Starc severs tie with RCB (SUB)
One of the abiding memories of Australia’s Mitchell Starc in IPL is his on-field tiff with West Indian Kieron Pollard in an IPL game in 2014 in Mumbai. Barring his 2014 and 2015 appearances for Royal Challengers Bangalore, the lanky left-arm pacer missed 2016 IPL due to knee injury.
On Sunday, Cricket Australia advised that “Starc will not play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League and will instead undertake a period of rehabilitation and strength leading into the ICC Champions Trophy in June”.
“Subsequently, Starc and the Royal Challengers Bangalore have come to a mutual decision to discontinue their association this season,” said Cricket Australia.
Starc’s withdrawal will mean that RCB will go into Monday’s auction with an additional purse of Rs 5 crore and an additional slot for an overseas player.
Starc said: “At this point in time, after a long summer and with a big tour of India still ahead, I think it is in my best interests, both physically and mentally, for me to have a break, spend time with my family and take the opportunity to work on getting back to full fitness.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Bangalore and I certainly hope to be back playing for them in the future and wish them all the best in this year’s IPL,” said Starc.