Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has made it clear that Australian star Steve Smith will bat in the top three for the franchise if given an opportunity.
Ponting also revealed that 31-year-old is hungry to do well after being released by the Rajasthan Royals ahead of the IPL 2021 auction.
Steve Smith led the Royals last season when they finished rock bottom in the points table. The Royals have now appointed Sanju Samson as their new captain. Ricky Ponting believes Smith will be eager to do well in the forthcoming IPL.
"I think the fact that he's (Steve Smith) 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." Ponting said to cricket.com.au.
Steve Smith might find it hard to break into the playing XI given the success of overseas stars Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Marcus Stoinis last year.
The batsman could end up battling with Shimron Hetmyer, Sam Billings, Tom Curran and Chris Woakes for the final overseas slot.
Moreover, the Capitals also have plenty of options in the top three. Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane and Stoinis have been proven performers at the top of the order over the years.
Ricky Ponting is aware of such competition for places, but is still happy to have Steve Smith for the experience he brings to the table.
"(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 added.
"I'm not really sure how we got Steve Smith so cheap"- Ricky Ponting
Delhi Capitals secured the services of Steve Smith for INR 2.2 crore at the 2021 auction. RCB made the initial bid, but they pulled out.
Later a behind the scenes video released by RCB revealed that the Bangalore franchise made the bid for Smith only to drive his price up.
Ricky Ponting, meanwhile, couldn't fathom how his franchise got an established star like Steve Smith for almost his base price of INR 2 crore.
The DC coach divulged that Smith wasn't talked about much going into the auction as a possible option.
"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," the former Australia captain said.
Elaborating further, Ponting said that he was on the phone during the auction.
"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. It was actually quite remarkable how it turned out because that sort of class doesn't come around all the time, and that sort of experience doesn't come around all the time," he added.
With the T20 World Cup looming around the corner, Steve Smith will be keen to show what he is capable of in the game's shortest format.
An impressive outing this season could see Smith's stock rise for the 2022 IPL ahead of the next mega auction.