One of the two new teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) from Rajkot has been named as 'Gujarat Lions' for the upcoming edition of the tournament. The Rajkot franchise, owned by Intex Mobiles, have also announced their captain in India's T20 specialist Suresh Raina, while Australia's Brad Hodge has been unveiled as their head coach.
Raina, who has previously led Team India in limited-overs cricket, has been in stunning form in the shortest version of the game. He was particularly influential in India's third and final T20I win against Australia in Sydney.
On the other hand, the Gujarat Lions provided an opportunity to Hodge by roping him in after talks with former Delhi Daredevils coach Gary Kirsten failed to materialise. This is also Hodge's first-ever full-time appointment as coach in all forms of cricket.
The 41-year-old Australian is an IPL veteran, having played for Kolkata Knight Riders, Kochi Tuskers and Rajasthan Royals in the past. Hodge has also played the dual role of a player and assistant coach with Big Bash League (BBL) giants Adelaide Strikers over the last couple of seasons.
Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Bravo were the other four players selected by the Rajkot franchise in the first-ever IPL draft held in November last year. Barring Faulkner, all of the Gujarat Lions' players were playing for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) up until last year.
Raina and MS Dhoni, who has been bought by the Pune franchise this season, were also teammates while playing for Chennai in the past. However, following a ban on Chennai and Rajasthan Royals over the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, the duo will be at loggerheads in the upcoming season.
"Dhoni and I talked about it in Australia (playing for different IPL teams). It will be fun. Imagine, Jadeja celebrating Dhoni's dismissal," Raina said at the launch of the team name and the logo.
Gujarat Lions and the other seven IPL teams will go head-to-head to secure the services of the top players for the upcoming season in the highly-awaited IPL auction, scheduled this month.