Steven Smith to join Pune Warriors
Pune Warriors are set to add Australia allrounder Steven Smith to their squad for the 2012 IPL. Smith will be the fourth* international to be signed by the franchise since they sorted out their differences with the BCCI after boycotting the February 4 auction. He joins fellow Australia allrounder James Hopes, England allrounder Luke Wright and West Indies allrounder Marlon Samuels. The deal is said to be almost through, pending a formal signing.
Smith was bought by the now terminated Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise last year, but missed the season after he injured his ankle and needed surgery. He was one of the Kochi players included in the player auction, but went unsold.
"Delighted to be joining the Pune Warriors for the IPL this year," Smith said on Twitter. "Very excited!!"
In the recently concluded Big Bash League, Smith made 166 runs at an average of 23.71 and a strike-rate of 130.70 for the Sydney Sixers. He also took six wickets at 21.50 with an economy-rate of 8.06.
Warriors have now filled all their overseas spots. The team is also still looking for a replacement for Yuvraj Singh, who is undergoing treatment for cancer and will miss the IPL. It is understood that Warriors might like to observe some players during the ongoing MiWAY T20 Challenge in South Africa, which ends on March 30.
*March 8, 2012 14:30GMT: This story has been updated to reflect that Pune Warriors have also signed England's Luke Wright
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo