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Smith can take over Brad’s role: Dravid

Calcutta/Bangalore: Rajasthan Royals, finishing third in the previous edition, added Australian sensation Steven Smith to their kitty for IPL VII.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the day belonged to Smith as he not just fetched the highest price of Rs 4 crore among Royals players, but also hit an unbeaten 91 to bail Australia out on Day I of the first Test against South Africa, at the Centurion.

Following a successful Ashes series up with another solid contribution, Smith only vindicated that the Royals were simply spot on with their bidding. Team mentor Rahul Dravid, too, stressed on the importance of the Australian’s presence in the side.

“We believe Smith can take over the role that Brad Hodge (bought for Rs 2.4 crore) played for us over the years. No wonder he’s an incredible talent,” Dravid said after Day I of the auctions, in Bangalore, on Wednesday.

According to Dravid, the Hodge-Smith duo could well prove to be deadly for Royals’ opponents. “Hodge has been an important player for us, especially at the No. 6 slot. His presence has come in handy especially during last six overs of the game… It’s during the pressure situation when Hodge is great.

“He’s also a terrific player of pace bowling. Also, we’ll be having a new captain this season. For instance, if someone like (Shane) Watson is handed the captaincy, someone like Hodge will be pivotal in helping him out. Now that Smith too is included, we do have a squad that has been strengthened further,” he added.

The other players that the Royals bought were Tim Southee (Rs 1.2 crore), Abhishek Nayar (Rs 1 crore), Kane Richardson (Rs 1 crore) and Ben Cutting (Rs 80 lakh). Dravid justified the other picks even as the Royals still have Rs 12.2 crore left to spend on the second day of auction on Thursday.