Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been removed as skipper of Rising Pune Supergiants for the 2017 Indian Premier League. The former Indian skipper, who stepped down from captaincy in the limited-overs format before the start of the England series, will now play only as a wicketkeeper-batsman. Steve Smith, the current Australia captain, will be the new skipper of the franchise.
This move has ended his innings as skipper in both international and franchise cricket.
Rising Pune Supergiants owner Sanjiv Goenka told PTI, “Dhoni has not stepped down. We have appointed Steve Smith as the skipper for the upcoming season. Frankly speaking, we did not have a good last season and we wanted someone young to lead the side and revamp it ahead of the upcoming season 10.”
Goenka further added, ““I have the highest regard for MS Dhoni as a leader and a person. Dhoni continues to be an integral member of our team. He is supportive of the decision keeping the franchise’s best interests in mind.”
Sources said that Dhoni has been informed of the decision by the franchise. The former India skipper has reportedly said that he will give his full co-operation to Smith in the 2017 IPL.
Steve Smith is currently the captain of the Australia cricket team in all three formats. He was appointed Test captain in 2014/15 and he took over the ODI captaincy reigns after the end of the 2015 World Cup.
Rising Pune Supergiants were one of the two new teams in the 2016 IPL along with Gujarat Lions following the suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. Although the team started well with a win over Mumbai Indians in the first match, the team failed to maintain the consistency. They were ravaged with injuries, with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis and Steven Smith all withdrawing due to injuries.
Pune narrowly avoided the wooden spoon to Kings XI Punjab, thanks to Dhoni who smashed two sixes off the last two balls in their last league game.
The most expensive player of the tournament that began in 2008, Dhoni also has been among the most successful. He has been captain in all eight editions of the Indian Premier League. He led Chennai Super Kings to two IPL titles in 2010 and 2011 while also leading the team to Champions League glory twice.
- With inputs from agencies-