On the eve of the auction for the 10th season of the Indian Premier League, it has emerged that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been removed as the captain of Rising Pune Supergiants. Australian captain Steve Smith will take over from the former Indian skipper.
Pune, who finished the ninth season as second from last in the group stages, will now be led by Smith, meaning that Dhoni will not captain a side for the first time in IPL history.
Dhoni was picked by Chennai Super Kings as their icon player in the first edition and he had them for the first eight seasons, making it to the playoffs every year and winning the title twice. 2016 was the first time a Dhoni-led side failed to make the top four, which seems to have prompted the Pune franchise to go with Smith instead for the 2017 edition.
Dhoni had stepped down as India captain before the ODI and T20 series against England. He led the men in blue for one last time against England in a warm-up game in Mumbai and had said then that he would continue to captain in the IPL, indicating this might be a decision by the Pune franchise to move forward.
However, reports indicate it was Dhoni's decision to step down. News Agency ANI reported that he asked the management to replace him as captain and wanted to be part of the team as player only.
(Images: BCCI / IPL)