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Smith replaces Dhoni

Kolkata, Feb 19: Rising Pune Supergiants on Sunday removed Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain of the franchise for the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the owners announced on Sunday.

Australia captain Steve Smith will take over the mantle from the former India skipper.

The move comes after Dhoni stepped down as the tiol team captain in the limited-overs format before the start of the England series.

“I have the highest regard for M.S. Dhoni as a leader and a person. Dhoni will continue to be an important part of our team. He is supportive of the decision keeping the franchisee’s best interests in mind,” Rising Pune Supergiants owner Sanjiv Goenka said in a statement.

Smith, 27, is considered as one of the best batsmen among the current generation. The Australian Test and One-Day Intertiol (ODI) sides captain has been part several IPL franchises in the past with stints with Pune Warriors, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The decision to me him the Pune team’s skipper comes a day before the players’ auctions scheduled to be held in Bengaluru.

Dhoni has been the most successful in skippering the now suspended IPL side Cheni Super Kings, leading the southern outfit to two crowns in in 2010 and 2011. Besides, he also led Cheni to the Champions League T20 trophies in 2010 and 2014.

He was the first to be picked in the only draft of players held in the IPL in December 2015, and two new franchises Pune and Gujarat Lions were given the option of choosing up to five players each from Cheni and Rajasthan Royals which were suspended for two years.

The decision sent twitter in a tizzy with support for the 2011 World Cup winning capatin pouring from all quarters. IANS

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Ankur Kalita