Suresh Raina was in the gym at Rajkot yesterday morning when the Indian Premier League (IPL) draft started at the MCA's Recreation Club in Bandra Kurla Complex. By the time he was done with his workout, Raina was flooded with congratulatory calls and messages from his well-wishers, informing him that he had been snapped by the Rajkot franchise.
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Suresh Raina bats for Chennai Super Kings during an IPL match against Delhi Daredevils in Chennai on May 12, 2011. Pic/AFP
Although Intex Technologies' Keshav Bansal, the new owner of the Rajkot IPL team, did not formally announce their captain for the ninth edition yesterday, there was enough indication who will be their man in the hot seat after picking Raina as their first choice player in the draft. Local hero Ravindra Jadeja was their second buy.
All set to be captain?
Raina too, seemed prepared to take the responsibility of leading a new team. "I have led the Indian team. I have the experience of leading the team (Chennai Super Kings) in the Champions League T20 and my state team (Uttar Pradesh). Above all, I have the courage to take decisions that matter to a team. I am looking forward to this challenge and I will definitely do well," Raina told mid-day.
A Rajkot vs Pune IPL clash will see Raina up against his India limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "There is no doubt it will be an emotional moment (when that happens). He is very dignified and a match-winning player. We have played with each other many times, but sometimes you have to perform against each other. That's cricket," Raina said.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Will it be a bit odd to play against Dhoni? "No, I don't think so. Cricket is all about expressing yourself on the field. We all play together for the Indian team. It will be no doubt interesting (to play against Dhoni). Every team in the IPL is good," said Raina.
Meanwhile, Raina is looking forward to play for a new franchisee in the IPL after being associated with the Chennai Super Kings since the tournament's inception. "I am very excited. I had the immense pleasure of playing for them in the last eight years. We have a great team... there are four players from CSK... Baz (Brendon McCullum), Dwayne Bravo, Jadeja and myself. Rajkot has an international stadium and IPL is a good platform. I am excited to play there, especially when you know that the wicket is batsmen-friendly. I have some happy memories of Rajkot," signed off Raina.