What’s the story?
Gujarat Lions assistant coach and former Indian cricketer, Mohammad Kaif feels Suresh Raina has the temperament and ‘guts’ to lead his Lions side to victory in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Indian Express, Kaif said, “Suresh is a big match player and has the guts to steer his team to winning the game. It will be important for him to perform and score runs. Not for others but for his own satisfaction. I have seen that he has that hunger to perform. As a captain, he has to set a benchmark for his teammates.
“Playing a tournament like the IPL always brings pressure on you. But he is a senior player, who has represented India for over a decade now, and won’t play under any pressure in an any given situation,” he added.
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Raina led the Lions brilliantly in their first season in the competition last year, helping them to the knockout rounds after finishing top of the table in the league stages. However, they lost both their qualifiers – against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad – to fall one step short of the finals.
Raina himself had a pretty decent tournament, amassing 399 runs from 15 matches with three 50s.
The heart of the matter
As the captain of the team, it will be important for Raina to get some runs under his belt and lead from the front. The Lions definitely have the players capable of carrying them to the finals and it will be Raina’s responsibility to make sure they perform in crunch situations, unlike last season where they crumbled under the pressure of the knockout rounds.
The southpaw, meanwhile, has shown that he is capable of stepping up his game when required as evidenced by his 73 off 38 in the 2012 finals against KKR.
Kaif, who joined the Lions staff this season, also spoke about possible team combinations, stating that Dinesh Karthik will be the side’s wicketkeeper ahead of up-and-coming sensation Ishan Kishan.
Gujarat kick off their campaign in IPL 10 against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday and Raina will be looking to get his side off to a flying start.
The Lions have an extremely strong lineup on paper with the likes of Brendon McCullum, Raina, Aaron Finch and new recruit Jason Roy present in the squad. They will definitely be in and around the playoff spots for most of the tournament and could possibly go all the way this time around. With a calm and collected captain in Raina, they have all the necessary tools at their disposal to be the seventh team to lift the coveted trophy.