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SA fans will connect: Smith

— File Photo

CAPTAIN IN THE OFFING? Shane Warne has apparently sounded out Graeme Smith on playing a leadership role for Rajasthan Royals.

Johannesburg: South Africa skipper Graeme Smith says global appeal of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will help cricket fans from his country connect with the city-based teams.

“I was in India last year and I saw how the tournament captured the people’s imagination. They loved watching players who were traditional rivals play alongside each other.

“What also amazed me was when I returned, how many South Africans had watched the tournament on television and the associations they had made with the respective teams,” he said.

“The tournament will also bring along its unique Indian sub-culture which will be a great experience for our fans,” the South African skipper added.

Smith, a part of the first edition champion Rajasthan Royals, also said that the conduct of the Twenty20 tournament in South Africa will prove beneficial for the game in his country.

“It’s another opportunity for our country to showcase its beauty. A way for more feet to move through our doors. It will also be a huge financial boost to the provincial unions who keep the game going.

“I’m sure it will be huge success. It is fantastic for the game in our country, and I’m sure it will be huge success,” Smith told the Cape Times.

Bigger role

Smith, who was one of the leading run-scorers last year, said now that the event will be played in South Africa, his role in Rajasthan Royals’s campaign will become bigger.

“It definitely does put me under more pressure. Last year I could just do my thing as a player. I have already received calls from Warney, so I will most likely have more of a leadership role,” said Smith.

Meanwhile, the new batting sensation J.P. Duminy, who has been signed up by the Mumbai Indians, said he would have loved playing in India but is happy at least to figure in it.

“I was kind of looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere of the Indian crowds, but I am excited the tournament will be in South Africa. I am just glad the tournament is going ahead,” said the left-hander. — PTI

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