Suresh Raina, captain of newly formed Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Gujarat Lions, yesterday dismissed suggestions that he will be competing against his former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the upcoming edition of the cash-rich league.
Suresh Raina (left) with MS Dhoni in Mirpur last year. Pic/AFP
Raina was appointed skipper of the Rajkot franchise following a players' draft after his former franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was suspended for two years by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee investigating the spot fixing controversy.
Raina played alongside Dhoni at CSK for eight IPL seasons. He however, chose to play down the prospect of any rivalry with Dhoni, who will lead Rising Pune Supergiants this time round.
"I am not competing with Dhoni. It's not just me, who will be playing against him. I am competing against other seven teams. There are other players in the team, too, who were in CSK squad, and who will now ply their trade against MSD," said Raina, a former India captain having led the national side against Zimbabwe in 2010.
"In IPL, the captain is just a name. You need 11 match-winners in the team to emerge successful in IPL," added the left-handed batsman, who admitted that it won't be easy for a new franchise to create a fan base from scratch.
"When you are staying in a house for a long time and then move to a new house for two years, it brings more challenges in life, but at the end of the day, you have to sleep in your house. So, it makes a lot of difference," said Raina, who scored 41 runs in five matches at 9.66 en route India's semi-final defeat at the recent World T20 tourney.
Speaking about his personal goals for IPL, Raina said he's looking forward to another explosive outing. "I have no specific plan. I just want to go there and smash it like I do for the Indian team," said the 29-year-old Uttar Pradesh Ranji player.
With Indian team director Ravi Shastri's contract ending following the recent World T20, BCCI has begun its hunt for a coach. And Raina seemed pretty clear in his choice of whether he preferred an Indian or a foreign coach. "Are you comfortable with your wife or with a stranger," he shot back, before adding: "Selecting the coach is the job of the board. I'm just a player, our job is to play."