Rajasthan Royals name Steve Smith in 16-man retention

England cricketers Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes clasp hands while wearing their Rajasthan Royals kit

Disgraced Australian stars Steve Smith and David Warner will make a comeback in next year's Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, their franchises announced on Thursday.

The Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers paid $1.67 million each at last year's IPL auction for the services of Smith and Warner.

The franchise has retained 16 of its players, including Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. The likes of Sanju Samson, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal, who performed well last season, have been retained.

While that ban has no impact on their ability to play in the IPL, it could mean they are able to turn out in the lucrative tournament before other Australian domestic players.

Former Australia captain Steve Smith missed the 2018 tournament following the ball-tampering scandal - the IPL Governing Council making the call to withdraw him and Sunrisers Hyderabad's David Warner - but the 29-year-old is now in line to make his return next spring, along with Warner. The franchise has now released Klaasen and brought back Smith.

Speaking at the retention of the players, Manoj Badale, lead owner, Rajasthan Royals added, "We are extremely satisfied with the team we built in 2018 and hence will be retaining the majority of the players".

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D'Arcy Short, Ben Laughlin, Heinrich Klaasen, Dane Paterson, Zahir Khan and Dushmantha Chameera were among the overseas players released, while they also let go of the Indians quartet of Jaydev Unadkat, Anureet Singh, Ankit Sharma and Jatin Saxena.

Speaking of the released players, Manoj Badale said, "After analysing our performances of 2018 and plotting our vision for the season ahead, we have chose to release a few players from our squad".

Both Smith and Warner have been successful captains in the IPL.

Commenting on the retained players, Zubin Bharucha, head of cricket for Rajasthan Royals said: "The results in the previous season have been impressive and that is why we have decided not to disturb the balance of the squad".

On Unadkat's release, Bharucha said: "JD was brilliant to have as part of the Royals last season and it was a really hard decision to release him".

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