IPL news February 2, 2016

Suresh Raina to lead Gujarat Lions in the IPL

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Suresh Raina is the IPL's most capped player © Getty Images

Suresh Raina has been named captain of the new Rajkot IPL franchise, which will be called Gujarat Lions, and former Australia batsman Brad Hodge has been appointed head coach of the team. Keshav Bansal, the owner of Intex, the company that bought the franchise, made the announcements in Delhi on Tuesday.

The four other players in the Gujarat Lions at present are New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum, West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo, India allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, Australia allrounder James Faulkner. They were picked at a player draft in December, when five cricketers who had belonged to the suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises were available for selection. The franchise will fill up its roster at the IPL player auction on February 6. Teams are allowed to have up to 18 Indian players and nine overseas players in total on their roster.

Raina had previously played for Super Kings, who were suspended for two years by the Lodha committee in the fallout of the spot-fixing controversy. He holds the distinction of never having missed an IPL game since the tournament began in 2008, and is the league's top scorer with 3699 runs at a strike rate of 140 in 132 matches. Raina had recently made a comeback to the India T20 squad for the tour of Australia, and he made an unbeaten 49 in Sydney as India swept the series 3-0.

Hodge was appointed to his first full-time coaching role by the franchise, which had also been in discussions with former South African opener Gary Kirsten, who was axed by Delhi Daredevils as coach after two seasons. Hodge, who is currently playing in the Masters Champions League, had originally put his name in the IPL auction's long list. He had listed his base price as INR 5,000,000 but when the final short list was published by the IPL last weekend, he had withdrawn his name.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo last year, Hodge had said he was a "little bit of a pioneer" in Twenty20 cricket, having shaped the way Australian batsmen approached the shortest format. For the last couple of seasons Hodge, 41, performed the dual role of assistant coach and player for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League. Hodge was the Strikers captain and his side made the semi-finals, which they lost to eventual champions Sydney Thunder.

Hodge also played for three IPL franchises - Kolkata Knight Riders, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Rajasthan Royals. One of the few 40-year olds still active in the game, Hodge was the first batsman to make 5000 runs in the Twenty20 format, and is presently second after Chris Gayle. Hodge is one of the very few players to have played 250 first-class matches and an equal number of Twenty20 games.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Rohit Jain on February 9, 2016, 8:52 GMT

    I would have preferred McCullum to be honest. He led NZL to WC final is a fantastic leader from the front. For some reasons, even though he's been terrific in IPL, Raina doesn't seem like captaincy material to me. Their team looks good though, much better than Pune.

  • Prats6 on February 8, 2016, 7:33 GMT

    Gujrat Lions sound way way much better than Rising Pune Supergiants! I think an Indian skipper is a better choice for continuity.

  • PratUSA on February 4, 2016, 2:53 GMT

    One more Lions? God save us. Time for someone to name a team 'XYZ Humans'.

  • cheapskate on February 3, 2016, 19:27 GMT

    Another IPL franchise that will be obsolete in 3 years but congrats to Brad Hodge

  • abyrao on February 3, 2016, 15:48 GMT

    Bad choice, McCullum should be the captain, Raina is a good batsman but does not possess leadership qualities.

  •   Shishir Bhattarai on February 3, 2016, 9:15 GMT

    McCullum should have been appointed captain instead!!

  • vilansehero on February 3, 2016, 7:18 GMT

    Think it makes sense to go with Gujarat name in case the team does exist after 2 years they'd have a mammoth 100,000 capacity ground to use at Ahmedabad. It is easier to shift a team called Gujarat from Rajkot to Ahmedabad then a team called Rajkot, isn't it?

  •   Saleel Pradhan on February 2, 2016, 23:19 GMT

    lol, while i like the name Gujarat Lions because it is simple, and makes sense with the Gir Forest there. .... one cant help but notice that when you break up SuperKings who have a Lion as a logo, you get SuperGiants and Lions

  • Inferno02 on February 2, 2016, 16:48 GMT

    What? Were the owners of the Rajkot team sleeping when Brendon McCullum lead his side to so many brilliant victories in the past three years? Astonishing!

  • wolf777 on February 2, 2016, 15:48 GMT

    Raina? Why not McCullum? Stupid choice of Captain.....team name is appropriate due to Rajkot not too far from Gir reservation which is the home of Gir Lions.

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