Heinrich Klaasen, the South Africa wicketkeeper batsman, has joined Rajasthan Royals as a replacement for Steven Smith, who was banned from playing IPL 2018 because of his role in the ball-tampering scandal in the Cape Town Test.
Klaasen, 26, made his international debut against India in February and was successful in the limited-overs series. He struck 43 off 27 balls to win the pink-day ODI, the biggest limited-overs fixture in the South African calendar. In T20s, he has a strike-rate of 146 after 44 innings, and was regarded as one of the few South African players able to cope with the wristspin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Royals bought him at his base price of INR 50 lakh (approx USD 77000) – Klaasen was unsold at the player auction in January – to fill the void left by Smith, who was barred from playing all international cricket, and domestic matches in Australia, for 12 months by Cricket Australia.
Royals will also be wary of the situation around Ben Stokes, who is due to be in court to challenge a charge of affray. The IPL will allow the franchise a replacement player for the England allrounder only if he is ruled out of the tournament before it begins as a result of the legal proceedings.
Royals squad: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), D’Arcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Aryaman Birla, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Prashant Chopra, Heinrich Klaasen, Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, Jofra Archer, K Gowtham, Jatin Saxena, Mahipal Lomror, Zahir Khan, Shreyas Gopal, Midhun S, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dushmantha Chameera, Ben Laughlin