Smith powers IPL strugglers to big win
Australia's Steve Smith hit an unbeaten half-century to lead his Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals to a comfortable win after being appointed captain.
Smith was given the leadership job in place of India's Ajinkya Rahane ahead of the game against Mumbai Indians in Jaipur, despite the Australian being barred from leading the national team over a ball-tampering scandal.
Smith - who along with compatriot David Warner missed the 2018 edition of the Twenty20 tournament because of the scandal - made an unbeaten 59 off 48 as Rajasthan outplayed Mumbai by five wickets.
"Haven't contributed as much as I'd like through this tournament, it was nice to get off to a good start and take the boys home," Smith said after his team's third win in nine games so far.
"We can't worry about other results, it's about us and our processes. For us, it's a final, every game. We did well to pull it back to 160 (161) and executed our skills well," he added.
The star batsman, who was named man of the match, hit five fours and one six to anchor Rajasthan's chase as they achieved their 162-run target with five balls to spare.
Rajasthan bowlers restricted Mumbai to 161 for five in 20 overs despite a brisk 65 from South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock.
Smith and Warner were not allowed to compete in last year's IPL despite their one-year suspension restricted to club and national games for Australia.
The former Aussie captain has made his way back into the national team for the upcoming World Cup but cannot take on formal leadership responsibilities for another year.
Smith and Warner's cheating ban ended last month and the two have launched into the IPL campaign as they seek to restore their reputations.
Smith, who was captain of Rajasthan in 2015 and also led the now defunct IPL franchise Rising Pune Supergiant for two years, has scored 245 runs in eight matches this season.
The team management are gambling on Smith boosting confidence to get the side to the play-offs.
"Steve is one of the most innovative and successful captains in the world, in all formats of the game," said Rajasthan's head of cricket Zubin Bharucha.
"We are confident he can lead the Royals to success."
Smith and Warner were suspended for cheating in a South Africa-AustraliaTest in March last year along with teammate Cameron Bancroft, who was banned for nine months.
CATCH OF THE SERIES?
Colin Ingram pulled off a stunning relay catch with his Delhi Capitals teammate Axar Patelto cut short Kings XI Punjab star Chris Gayle's blistering knock in the IPL.
The athletic South African leapt on the deep mid-wicket boundary to catch the ball but since his momentum was taking him over the rope, he threw it to Patel who completed the dismissal near long-on.
The candidate for 'catch of the tournament' on the boundary got Gayle trudging back to the pavilion for 69 off Nepalese spinner Sandeep Lamichhane at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
Gayle's 37-ball blitz guided Punjab to 163 for seven but the score was not enough as Delhi surpassed the total in 19.4 over sto win by five wickets.
"Chris Gayle caught by Axar Patel, What about Colin Ingram who did all the hard work?," noted Indian statistician Mohandas Menon wrote on Twitter.
Delhi skipper Shreyas Iyer anchored the chase with an unbeaten 58 that included a 92-run second-wicket partnership with opener Shikhar Dhawan, who made 56.