Delhi Capitals (DC) head coach Ricky Ponting called buying Steve Smith for just above his base price (Rs 2.20 crores) in the IPL 2021 auction a steal for his team. Smith was released by the Rajasthan Royals (RR) ahead of the auction after RR finished last on the points table in IPL 2020.
This release also fetched RR Rs 12 crores to spend in the auction and DC acquired Smith’s services for a relatively much cheaper price.
Ponting had told Smith before the auction he was eager to bring him to the Capitals but conceded the Australian wasn't spoken about at length in Delhi's pre-auction strategy meetings given they expected to be outbid by other teams who had more money available under the salary cap.
"I'm not really sure how we got him so cheap. It was quite clear that a lot of other teams had more money than us going into the auction. A lot of other teams released more players, so they got a lot of their salary cap back.
So going into the auction, we hadn't really spoken a lot about Smithy. His name did come up in some of the strategy stuff, but … we just thought 'we're getting outbid', simple as that. So we hadn't put that much time into it.
I was on the phone at home actually watching the auction live and talking to our owners as it was all happening. And that one bid came from us, and it was one bid and bang! Sold to Delhi Capitals.” Ponting told cricket.com.au this week ahead of the IPL 2021 tournament.
However, it remains to be seen whether Steve Smith can force his way into the DC playing XI given that they would prefer Marcus Stoinis, Kagiso Rabada, and Anrich Nortje for three of the four overseas players’ slots, with Shimron Hetmyer being the finisher for them and the fourth overseas player in the XI.
This means Smith will be in contention for the fourth overseas players’ spot with Hetmyer, Sam Billings, Chris Woakes, and Tom Curran. If Smith plays, Ponting says he will likely bat in the top three in a side that is without their injured captain, Indian batting star Shreyas Iyer.
"I think the fact that he's been released from the franchise that he's been at for a long time will make him a bit hungry as well this year. So, if he gets an opportunity with us – I think it will be in the top three somewhere – if he gets an opportunity, I'm sure he'll have a great year for us. I caught up with him (recently), he's very, very keen to go out there and perform well.
(It's) great to have him as a part of our squad. As I said – even if he doesn't play, for instance, to have someone like that around with his sort of knowledge on the game and the T20 game, will be great for our group. I can't wait to work with him again,” Ponting said.