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Suresh Raina speaks about the prospect of playing against MS Dhoni in the IPL

Raina looks forward to playing against his long-time Chennai Super Kings captain, MS Dhoni, as they play for Rajkot and Pune respectively.

Raina has been named as the captain of the Gujarat Lions, the Rajkot-based franchise of the IPL.

The Indian Premier League will enter its ninth edition this year and for the first time, it will feature a team from the state of Gujarat. The Gujarat Lions, whose name and logo was unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday, will be playing their home matches at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.

The team will be coached by Australian Twenty20 legend Brad Hodge and leading the side will be the highest run-scorer in the history of the IPL – Suresh Raina. The left-handed batsman, who recently guided India to a memorable win in Sydney against Australia, spoke about his upcoming challenge and how he will look to lead the Lions in their inaugural season in the competition.

Delighted to be a part of the team: Raina

Raina was quizzed about starting afresh after a memorable eight-year long stint at the Chennai Super Kings and he looked optimistic, to say the very least. Citing this opportunity as a great challenge, the T20 specialist said, “I am really delighted to be a part of this new team. I look forward to playing with the likes of McCullum, Faulkner, Bravo and Jadeja in my team and I am positive that we will put up a great show.” 

He also spoke about how important it was that Gujarat finally got a home team to cheer for and asked fans in the state to get behind the side and support them in the upcoming edition of the league. Raina also laid emphasis on the fact that it was not just Gujarat that they are looking to turn to, as the Lions will be looking to create a nation-wide fan base for their team.

Playing against Dhoni a challenge: Raina

The newly-appointed captain was then asked about how he felt about playing against MS Dhoni, especially after playing under Captain Cool's leadership for almost a decade in the IPL as well as in international cricket and winning almost everything there was to be won. Raina stated that he sees this opportunity as another challenge and told the press that the two had actually discussed this matter multiple times in the dressing room during the Australia tour and had a good laugh about it.

The southpaw heaped praise on the Indian T20 and ODI skipper and referred to him the ‘greatest captain in history’. He also joked that he will try his best to stop Dhoni from 'launching his helicopter' and said that he is all set for banter that will ensue when both of them will take to the pitch in different jerseys. With a cheeky smile, he said, "I look forward to dancing with Bravo after taking Dhoni’s wicket!”

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