(Reuters) – Former Australia captain Steve Smith scored 20 off 16 balls on his return to the Indian Premier League but failed to inspire Rajasthan Royals to victory over Kings XI Punjab on Monday.
Smith missed last year’s IPL after getting a 12-month ban from international cricket for his role in Australia’s ball-tampering scandal during a test match in South Africa.
Hoping to earn a place in Australia’s World Cup squad, Smith made a cautious start in Jaipur but soon found his groove and hit Punjab’s Sam Curran for two boundaries, including a flick over square leg for six.
The 29-year-old escaped a close lbw shout in Curran’s next over but was dismissed two balls later when he was caught by Lokesh Rahul on the long-off boundary.
Rajasthan lost six more wickets in the next 16 deliveries to finish on 170-9, 14 runs short of Punjab’s total.
Smith and former Australia vice-captain David Warner are eligible to return to international cricket when their bans end on March 28. They were left out of Australia’s squad for the current one-day series against Pakistan.
The World Cup in England and Wales starts on May 30.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)