An indifferent run which saw the Royals lose six of their eight clashes so far proved to be expensive for Rahane with the franchise adopting a fresh approach in a bid to raise their play-off hopes.
It is not the first instance of a franchise replacing the captain midway through the season.
Here, we take a look at some of the more notable captaincy changes in IPL’s history.
GILCHRIST REPLACES LAXMAN (2008)
The very first captaincy upheaval occurred in the inaugural edition itself with VVS Laxman stepping down from the now defunct Deccan Charger’s captaincy.
The right-hander had been picked as the franchise’s icon player in the preceding auction but his own form was suspect while the team continued to face loss after loss.
Laxman was then out for a large stretch with an injury where Adam Gilchrist took over the reins before the team management ultimately decided to appoint the Aussie on a full-time basis. It did little to change Deccan Charger’s fortunes with the side finishing bottom of the table with just two wins in 14 games.
KOHLI IN FOR VETTORI (2012)
Royal Challengers Bangalore
While he was appointed as the full-time skipper of Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2013, Virat Kohli took charge for eight matches in the 2012 edition after Daniel Vettori’s dismal showings.
The New Zealand spinner was replaced from the playing XI altogether with Kohli appointed in his place. The now India skipper’s brief 2012 tenure was a highly successful one with the team stringing together six wins under his captaincy before narrowly missing out on play-off qualification.
The India superstar has retained that captaincy ever since but a maiden IPL title continues to elude RCB.
WHITE REPLACES SANGAKKARA (2012)
In what was the first instance of a skipper voluntarily stepping down from his role in the IPL, Deccan Chargers captain Kumar Sangakkara stepped down midseason following his poor individual form.
Australia all-rounder Cameron White was then appointed to the vacant rule but it still failed to bring about a desired turnaround for the franchise who finished ninth in the 10-team competition.
PONTING DROPS HIMSELF FOR ROHIT (2013)
Mumbai Indians skipper Ricky Ponting took a cue from Sangakkara’s selfless act in the subsequent edition after scoring just 52 runs with the bat in the first six matches of the campaign.
The Australian legend’s decision to step down proved to be a masterstroke with Mumbai stitching together a fairytale run under new skipper Rohit Sharma.
The franchise won eight of the 10 remaining league fixtures to sneak into the play-offs before beating Chennai Super Kings in the final to claim their maiden IPL title. Rohit has since added two more titles to Mumbai’s kitty.
SMITH REPLACES WATSON (2015)
Smith replacing Rahane is not the first the Australia batsman has taken over midway through an IPL campaign for Rajasthan.
The top-order batsman had done something similar in the 2015 edition with the franchise when his compatriot Shane Watson decided to step down quietly in a bid to concentrate on his own form.
Under Smith, the Royals did enjoy a late surge before missing out on play-off qualification after a dramatic loss to Mumbai Indians.
Australia star batsman Steve Smith will lead Rajasthan Royals for the remainder of the IPL season after the franchise removed Ajinkya Rahane from the position on Saturday following an indifferent first half.
Smith was the original leader of the team but the ball-tampering episode last year led to change in hierarchy. But after six defeats from eight games this season and with Rahane himself not in the best of forms, the Rajasthan management has hit the reset button in order to get their campaign back on track.
In a statement, Rajasthan stated that “Ajinkya Rahane did a fantastic job in leading the team to the playoffs last year, however, the franchisee now thinks a fresh approach is needed to bring their 2019 campaign back on track.”
Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket for Rajasthan Royals, said: “Ajinkya is and will always be a true Royal. He led the team to the play offs in 2018 in a very challenging scenario and that will go down as one of the great comebacks of the IPL. He remains a key part of our side and leadership team and will extend support wherever required to Steve.
“Steve is one of the most innovative and successful captains in the world, in all formats of the game. We are confident he can lead the Royals to success.”
The spotlight will be well and truly on Kolkata Knight Riders and their batting order as they look to stop their alarming slide in IPL 21019 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.
Andre Russell has been the undisputed MVP of this season with his incredible hitting, despite a hurt wrist and wonky knees, holding a disjointed KKR together. The Knight Riders have now lost four matches in a row and they only have themselves to blame as their batting revolves mainly around Russell and they aren’t utilising him properly.
Russell at No4?
After his unforgiving 65 off 25 balls against RCB took Kolkata to within 10 runs of the target of 214, Russell said he would like to bat higher up the order.
In the game against RCB, Robin Uthappa crawled to nine off 20 balls when the asking rate was way beyond 10 an over. It was a monumental waste of deliveries given the final margin of result and it is high time Russell gets to bat more overs.
Nitish Rana gave Russell excellent support with 85 off 46 balls. Which means there is a case for Russell to bat at No 4 instead of No6 and Uthappa to bat lower down or even be replaced as he has made just one fifty in the tournament.
Sunrisers on the rise
Sunrisers Hyderabad were starting to sink with three successive defeats. The clash against Chennai Super Kings could have knocked them down for good but against the table toppers, Sunrisers came out with their A game and defeated CSK by six wickets with star leg-spinner Rashid Khan (2-17) and talismanic opener David Warner (50 off 25 balls) getting the job done.
That’s the thing with Hyderabad – when players like Rashid, Warner and Jonny Bairstow get going, they take the team past the finish line.
It is the final week or so for English and Australian players to do their thing before they are asked to join their respective teams for World Cup preparations. So both Warner and Bairstow will be keen to leave the team in the best condition possible.
SRH: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Khaleel Ahmed
KKR: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (c and wk), Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Harry Gurney, Prasidh Krishna