Having played eight seasons of the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Suresh Raina will find himself in unfamiliar territory when he captains the new Gujarat Lions franchise this season.
With CSK serving a two-year suspension as per the Lodha Committee recommendations, the core of the team India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni nurtured over eight seasons in Chennai has been divided between two sides. Ravindra Jadeja and Brendon McCullum will turn out for the Lions while Ravichandran Ashwin and Faf du Plessis will play for Rising Pune Supergiants in the new season, which begins on Saturday.
The switch has left Raina feeling out of place in his new ‘home’ Rajkot.
“It will be difficult for us. When you’re staying in your house for so many years and then suddenly have to live in another house for two years, it is really challenging,” Raina told reporters on Tuesday.
With Raina handed the reins of the new franchise, it was inevitable that questions about going up against his captain of eight seasons, Dhoni, came up. The 29-year-old was quick to dismiss any comparisons. “I’m not competing against Dhoni. I’m competing against seven other teams.”
Raina endured a horrid time at the recent World T20, scoring 41 runs in four matches. Despite being handed the responsibility of captaincy, he is confident things will be bright for the Lions.
“We have many match-winners in our side, there’s Dwayne Bravo and then Brendon McCullum, who didn’t play in the World T20 and wanted to focus on the IPL instead. This shows how much experience we have in the dressing room.”
As for his lean patch, he was philosophical. “It is part and parcel of sports. You win some, you lose some.”