Fantastic To Have Steve Smith Available For CSK Game - McDonald > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Fantastic to have Steve Smith available for CSK game - McDonald

Steve Smith will lead RR from the start of the season for the first time.

Steve Smith will lead RR from the start of the season for the first time.

With Jos Buttler out of their season opener and uncertainty surrounding Ben Stokes's participation, Rajasthan Royals have received a much-needed shot in the arm with Steve Smith's availability for the game against Chennai Super Kings on September 22 in Sharjah.

"Fantastic news that Steve is available," RR head coach Andrew McDonald said on the eve of the game. "It's fantastic especially on the back of some setbacks back in the UK. It's obviously great to have your skipper available for the first game."

"In terms of the rest of the squad, we couldn't be happier with their preparation. We've got what we needed, having been here nice and early to get our preparation going on the back of the long lay-off. We have got the bases covered and have some really good depth in the squad and really looking forward to seeing what it looks like in a real competitive match against CSK.

Just before arriving in UAE, Smith spent his last outing with Australia - an ODI series in England - on the sidelines after being hit on the head in practice one day before the first fixture. Though Smith passed every concussion test he took, the team management kept him out, citing 'precautionary measure'. Though Smith underwent tests before each game and passed them too, he wasn't risked. Langer has now said that Smith looked 'unwell' though he tried his best to get back to full fitness.

"We saw how unwell he looked, doing his very best to get up. So, I said to him after he didn't play the first game, it's very likely that will rule you out from the whole series mate," Langer said. "Because we had to play three games in 5-6 days. It wasn't a surprise to me. The protocols are there for a reason. We've been really fair with those protocols and been consistent with them."

Smith arrived in Dubai and got a couple of days of rest before being put through the paces to judge if he was going to be ready for the CSK game. "I've been in Dubai for a couple of days now with some good rest and then got into a bit of running. Yesterday I did a bit of zig-zag running, which is part of the protocols to pass to get back to play and today I'll have a hit in the nets. Hopefully, pull up well from the hit and be good to play tomorrow," Smith said.

Looking ahead to the game, McDonald reckoned CSK have a slight advantage owing to the fact they've already played a game. However, RR have had the advantage of training in the venue of the match - Sharjah - and give their players a feel of the game from the middle in the nets.

"They had a fantastic first game, they're one game into the tournament which is a slight advantage when you come out against the team that's already played and performed. So, we'll definitely have our work cut out."

"We've trained at Sharjah a couple of times. Most of our players have got a really good feel for the surface. We've had some net practice in the middle which is always a positive rather than just nets out at the back. The guys have been able to feel what it's like batting at the centre and have had plenty of fielding down there, so they are quite familiar with the stadium.

Life has not been smooth for batsmen in the games so far in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but the ball game is expected to be rather different in Sharjah. "Clearly a different surface to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in terms of runs and the size of the venue so it'll create some difficult challenges there for the bowling unit, so no question there being a high-scoring ground."

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