Former Australia captain Michael Clarke has hinted that Steve Smith might pull out of the Indian Premier League 2021 giving injury excuses due to the relatively small amount at which he was bought by the Delhi Capitals at the auction.

Smith, the premier Australian batsman was picked for just Rs 2.2 crore by the Delhi Capitals franchise at Thursday’s auction in Chennai.

He captained the Rajasthan Royals in the last edition of the IPL. But he was released by the franchise for below-par performance in 2020. RR, who retained Smith in 2018 for Rs 12.5 crore, finished at the bottom in the points table in IPL 2020 under his captaincy.

“I know his T20 performances haven’t been as good as he would have liked. Last year’s IPL wasn’t great. I’m very surprised he has gone for the amount of money he has, just under $400,000 – which is still good money,” said Clarke on the Big Sports Breakfast Podcast after calling Smith among the top three batsmen in the world.

“But when you look at what he was getting (last season) and his role as captain of Rajasthan, don’t be surprised if there’s a little hamstring strain the day the plane is meant to fly to India,” Clarke added.

Smith made 311 runs at 25.91 in last year’s IPL in 14 matches, scoring just three half-centuries.

“You talk about Steve Smith – if he’s not the best batsman in the world, he’s not far away. Virat Kohli is number one, but Smithy is in the top three,” Clarke added.