After making their debut in last season’s Indian Premier League, the Gujarat Lions surprised everyone by topping the standings before failing to get past in the qualifiers.
The think-thank assembled a well-balanced squad with the core of the team made up of former Chennai Super Kings players and other proven T20 specialists.The results were there to see as they won six of their first seven games. Although they hit the wall later, Gujarat Lions were somehow able to cling on to the top spot before stuttering in the qualifiers.
For the 10th edition of the competition they haven’t tinkered much with their line-up and have just replenished it.
The likes of Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Smith aggregated more than 300 runs last edition and once again they will form the backbone for their forays. They have added more steel to the line-up with the acquisition of England opener Jason Roy.
But much of their focus during the auction was to strengthen their bowling line-up which wilted under pressure last season. But instead of getting into a bidding war for foreign leather-flingers they have taken a gamble with the domestic ones by buying the likes of Manpreet Gony, Munaf Patel, Nathu Singh, Basil Thampi and Pradeep Sangwan.
Suresh Raina: He may not have been awarded a central contract by the BCCI but the second-highest run scorer in IPL’s history can still pack a punch in the shortest format of the game. With the Champions Trophy on the horizon, the southpaw will hope to catch the selectors attention with some dazzling performances.
Ravindra Jadeja: The pieces are finally falling into place for the all-rounder on the international front and the Lions will hope that he brings the same form to their shores as well. While he has been bowling some breathtaking spells off late, his IPL team will hope that he can wield his willow effectively as well. After all, their lower middle-order struggled to see them through last season.
Brendon McCullum: The swashbuckling Kiwi batsman is capable of single-handedly taking the game away from the opposition with his fireworks at the top of the order. And if his efforts in the Big Bash League are anything to go by, the opener is once again ready to unleash his wrath on the bowlers.
The newbies topped the table before losing both their qualifiers. First they were beaten by Royal Challengers Bangalore and then by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Suresh Raina (skipper) Akshdeep Nath, Shubham Agarwal, Basil Thampi, Dwayne Bravo, Chirag Suri, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Manpreet Gony, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Karthik, Shivil Kaushik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Brendon McCullum, Munaf Patel, Pratham Singh, Jason Roy, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Shelley Shaurya, Nathu Singh, Dwayne Smith, Tejas Baroka, Andrew Tye.