"Dhoni has not stepped down. We have appointed Steve Smith as the skipper," says team owner.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been removed as skipper of his Indian Premier League team with Australia's Steve Smith replacing him for the upcoming tournament, an official statement said Sunday.
Dhoni, who stepped down as India's limited-overs captain last month, will continue to play as wicketkeeper-batsman for the Rising Pune Supergiants in the Twenty20 franchise-based competition that begins April 5.
"Rising Pune Supergiant today announced the appointment of Steve Smith as their new captain for the forthcoming edition of IPL season 10," a team statement said.
Team owner Sanjiv Goenka said Dhoni "is supportive of the decision, keeping the franchise's best interests in mind".
Under 35-year-old Dhoni's captaincy, the Pune team finished second last in their debut IPL season in 2016, winning only five games and losing nine.
Dhoni scored 284 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 135 while 27-year-old Smith, who captains Australia in all formats, hit 270 in seven at a 153-strike rate.
Some reports said Dhoni took the decision to step down and was not sacked, but team owner Goenka told the Press Trust of India that wasn't the case.
"Dhoni has not stepped down. We have appointed Steve Smith as the skipper," Goenka told PTI.
"Frankly speaking, we did not have a good last season and we wanted someone young to lead the side and revamp it ahead of the upcoming season 10."
There was no immediate reaction from Dhoni.— AFP