Steve Smith has scored 20 on his IPL return as his Rajasthan Royals side lost by 14 runs to Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur.
Veteran West Indies opener Chris Gayle laid the foundation for the victory with a typically aggressive innings of 79 from 47 deliveries as the Kings posted a score of 4-184.
Former Test captain Smith, whose year-long international suspension following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa expires this week, came to the crease in controversial circumstances after Jos Buttler was ‘Mankaded’ by Ravi Ashwin.
The England batsman-wicketkeeper looked in imperious touch, scoring 69 from 43 balls as the hosts looked well on course to chase down their target.
But Ashwin then became only the second player in IPL history to run out a player who was backing up, and a furious Buttler was forced to depart the scene with the pair exchanging angry words as he exited the field.
Smith came to the crease with his right arm heavily strapped following recent elbow surgery and looked understandably rusty at the start of his innings scoring just three runs from the first three balls.
He then only managed a single from back-to-back free hits following two no balls from Ankit Rajpoot before finding his range by clubbing Sam Curran for a boundary and a six in successive deliveries.
But the young England allrounder, who was carted for 52 runs from his four overs, turned the game in his side’s favour by dismissing Smith thanks largely to a brilliant running catch on the boundary by KL Rahul.
Curran then dismissed Sanju Samson for 30 two balls later as the Royals lost six wickets for 14 runs to fall well short of their target.