Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina © Getty Images
Ravindra Jadeja (left) and Suresh Raina will have to carry the team on their shoulders © Getty Images

The Rajkot-based Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, named Gujarat Lions (GL), will be led by Suresh Raina in IPL 2016. This will be the first time a team from Gujarat is a part of IPL. Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) are the two new teams who have replaced Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), and IPL 9 will be their first outing. Gujarat Lions is the Rajkot-based franchise which is owned by Intex. Apart from Raina, Gujarat Lions have four other marquee cricketers in Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, and Brendon McCullum, with Brad Hodge as coach. Gujarat Lions will have to make a few smart purchases at the IPL 2016 player auction. READ: Full list of players retained by IPL 9 teams before Indian Premier League auction

With McCullum’s retirement comes the added good fortune for Gujarat Lions of his availability for the entirety of IPL 9. However, both Faulkner and McCullum have had injury concerns recently, and GL will hope that their key players can recover soon. In Raina and Jadeja the Lions have two members of the Indian side that are crucial to the team’s fortunes. Both Raina and Jadeja are capable all-round cricketers but they face the pressure of carrying the team on their own shoulders; something they have never had to worry about yet. READ: Full list of players released by IPL 9 teams before Indian Premier League auction

Both Raina and Jadeja have been a part of IPL since its inception. Barring one year when Jadeja was banned from playing IPL due to a monetary dispute, they have been key members of their respective sides. However, this year Raina and Jadeja will be the senior players who have to rally the Lions around them. This will be a new experience for them; Raina always had the looming shadow of MS Dhoni to play under when he was at Chennai Super Kings, while Jadeja has had the likes of Shane Warne (Rajasthan Royals), Mahela Jayawardene and McCullum (Kochi Tuskers Kerala), and Dhoni himself. READ: Full list of players to be auctioned with base prices in IPL 2016

As for the rest of the team, GL will be looking to enhance their batting. McCullum and Raina are two explosive options at the top of the order, but Jadeja, Bravo, and Faulkner are all-rounders who bat best in the lower-middle order. GL will want to get hold of at least two of the marquee players like Kevin Pietersen, Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch, Martin Guptill, or Shane Watson. READ: Full list of teams with funds before Indian Premier League (IPL) 9

GL would have their eyes on Indian players like Sanju Samson, Dinesh Karthik, Stuart Binny, Irfan Pathan, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Karun Nair, among others. At present the Lions have a team that seems to have a lot of potential, but it will all depend on how smartly they go about the player auction. The building blocks are in place, but how they use their funds will determine whether they are likely to go all the way or fall short in their maiden IPL outing.

Captain: Suresh Raina.

Main players: Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum.

Coach: Brad Hodge.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)