Graeme Smith, the Rajasthan Royals opener, has been ruled out of the final of the Indian Premier League because of a hamstring injury he sustained during the semi-final against Delhi Daredevils on Friday.
Smith was rested for Rajasthan's last two league games because he injured his hamstring against Chennai but returned to open the innings in the semi-final. However, he pulled up while running a single in the second over and continued batting with a runner, Mohammad Kaif. He was eventually dismissed for 25 off 21 balls as Rajasthan crushed Delhi by 105 runs.
"Smith has played a huge part in the team's success and we had gave him a couple of games off to recover from his hamstring injury [against Chennai]," Shane Warne, the Rajasthan captain, said. "Yesterday he was running around like an 18-year-old and said he had no problem at all. However, during the game [against Delhi] he tore his hamstring in different spot.
"Unfortunately, he [Smith] is out for tomorrow's game [final]. We have to make the big decision on who will open the innings with Swapnil [Asnodkar]. Younis Khan and Kamran Akmal come to my mind as being likely to open in the final."
Smith's injury is a blow to Rajasthan for he is their second-highest run-scorer with 441 at an average of 49. He also forged an attacking opening partnership with Swapnil Asnodkar - the pair average 59.71 at 8.96 per over, with two century stands.
Rajasthan are likely to pick Akmal, who has scored 122 runs in five innings at a strike-rate of 171.83, over Younis who has played just one game in the IPL so far. If Akmal does get the nod, he is likely to keep wicket instead of Mahesh Rawat, which could also open the door for Niraj Patel's return.
Rajasthan will take on the winner of the second semi-final between Chennai and Kings XI Punjab, which will take place on Saturday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The final will be held on Sunday at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.