Rajasthan Royals on Thursday retained banned former Australian skipper Steve Smith while releasing their costliest buy last season -- pacer Jaydev Unadkat, along with Aussie opener D'Arcy Short, fast-medium bowler Ben Laughlin and South African wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen, ahead of the 2019 IPL auctions next month.
The Royals have retained 16 players, who have been match-winners and young guns who stood up and delivered in the last season. The likes of Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal are among those who have been retained along with skipper Ajinkya Rahane.
Commenting on the retained players, Zubin Bharucha, head of cricket for Rajasthan Royals said: "The results in the previous season have been impressive and that is why we have decided not to disturb the balance of the squad. We cannot wait for the start of the 2019 season and preparation has already begun."
Coming to the list of released players, the Royals also released South African fast-medium bowler Dane Paterson and chinaman Zahir Khan from Afghanistan along with Dushmantha Chameera from Sri Lanka.
Besides Unadkat, the other Indian players released by the team are Anureet Singh, Ankit Sharma and Jatin Saxena.
Manoj Badale, lead owner, Rajasthan Royals said: "After analysing our performances of 2018 and plotting our vision for the season ahead, we have decided to release a few players from our squad. We are grateful for their exceptional effort during the tournament last season and wish them success in their future endeavours; they will always continue to be part of the extended Royals family."
Retained Indian players: Ajinkya Rahane, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Gopal, Aryaman Birla, S. Midhun, Prashant Chopra, Stuart Binny, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mahipal Lomror.
Retained International players: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi.