New Delhi: Australia skipper Steve Smith on Thursday expressed his delight after being retained by the Rajasthan Royals franchise for the 2018 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Smith, the No.1 Test batsman, was the sole player retained by the Royals, who are back into the IPL fold after serving a two-year ban.
Smith, who had been part of the Royals team for two seasons in 2014 and 2015, guided the team to the playoffs in 2015 before the franchise was banned following corruption controversies.
"I am really excited to be standing by the Rajasthan Royals in this season of the IPL. It's a great franchise with great people around.
"I loved playing for them in the past and I am looking forward to once again joining the team and making a big difference in the IPL this year," the Australian said.
Chennai Super Kings, the other team to be back after serving a ban, retained the Indian trio of former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja.
Expressing his delight, Raina said: "Good to be back to CSK after 2 years. Looking forward to play in front of my beautiful and knowledgeable crowd whom I missed the last two years. See you out there in Chepauk Stadium."
Also elated were the trio of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah after the Mumbai Indians retained them for the 11th edition of the league.
"Excited to be part of this wonderful franchise again. This team is what it is today because of its wonderful fans, people who work hard behind the scenes and it's passionate owners. I look forward to the season ahead," said Rohit, who guided Mumbai to the title in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Pandya on his part tweeted: "Mumbai Indians is where I began my successful journey in cricket. I am privileged to continue being a part of the MI family."
Death bowling specialist Bumrah felt that the best is yet to come as he tweeted: "The best is yet to come. Looking forward to represent this colour once again with utmost happiness!"
Meanwhile the Delhi Daredevils, who also unveiled Australia legend Ricky Ponting as their new coach, retained the trio of Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and South African Chris Morris.
Commenting on his association with the Delhi side, Rishabh tweeted: Extremely happy to continue with @DelhiDaredevils." Morris also tweeted his delight, saying: "Over the moon to be retained by @DelhiDaredevils Looking forward to this season!"
After retaining India skipper Virat Kohli, South African Ab de Villiers and youngster Sarfaraz Khan for the 2018 season, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) chairman Amrit Thomas said the trio embodies the 'play bold and fearless' outlook that is inherent in the team.
"For the 11th season of IPL, we are pleased to retain Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Sarfaraz Khan. Virat has been a part of Royal Challengers Bangalore since the inception of the league, and is the team's captain - on and off the field," Thomas said in a statement.
"The camaraderie and team work between Virat and AB de Villiers has been the backbone of the team for several seasons and we want to build on that. Sarfaraz is one of the players we believe will rise to great heights, not just in the IPL but in world cricket.
"We believe that together, Virat, AB de Villers and Sarfaraz embody the ‘play bold and fearless' outlook that is inherent in RCB, and we are excited to retain them for IPL 2018," he added. (IANS)