New Delhi: South Africa's hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen has replaced Steve Smith in the Rajasthan Royals' squad for the coming Indian Premier League (IPL) season, after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) barred the Australia captain from participation in the league, following his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal and subsequent ban by Cricket Australia (CA).
"The Rajasthan Royals have picked Heinrich Klaasen as the replacement for Steve Smith. The wicketkeeper-batsman was picked for INR 50 lakh from the Registered and Available Player Pool (RAPP) list," an IPL media advisory read.
Klaasen made his international debut during the ODI series on India's recent tour of South Africa. He was also named the 'Man of the Match' in the second match of the series that India won 5-1.
The South African was then rewarded for his impressive show with a T20I debut in the three-match series against India, which the visitors clinched 2-1.
"I am thankful to the Rajasthan Royals for giving me this opportunity and making me part of the squad," said Klaasen. "It would be my first IPL and, in fact, my first ever visit to India, so I am really excited to be teaming up and sharing the dressing room with some great names.
"I have made it my mission to ensure my performance makes a large impact for my team in the tournament."
Royals' Head of Cricket, Zubin Bharucha, said: “We are delighted to have Klaasen onboard. His hard-hitting ability with plenty of options against spin makes him dangerous through the middle of an innings.
"What struck us about Klaasen, other than his ability to strike a ball, was his inherent hunger to make every opportunity count. This is a good space to be in as a cricketer and batsman. We look forward to working with Klaasen to ensure he has a great career in the IPL.”
Smith, meanwhile, was banned by CA for 12 months after admitting to his role in a plan, along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, to cheat by tampering with the ball in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
The CA also banned Warner for 12 months and Bancroft for nine months.
Warner, who was scheduled to lead Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, has also been barred by the BCCI from playing in the league. He has been replaced by England batsman Alex Hales in the Hyderabad squad.
In the absence of Smith and Warner, Rajasthan will be led by Ajinkya Rahane and Hyderabad by New Zealand's Kane Williamson.