Suresh Raina is among the most likable Indian cricketers. (He is the anti-Kohli in more ways than one.) His success with Chennai Super Kings especially endeared him to many in Tamil Nadu. In quintessential Tamil style, we used to call him ‘Chinna Thala’. Without his batting CSK would not have been half the team it was. Even when we vociferously celebrated Thala Dhoni and local heroes Ashwin and Vijay, none came close to the affection we reserved for the happy-go-lucky Raina. So when CSK got what it deserved and Gujarat Lions chose Raina as their captain last year, I did not have to think too much whom to support.
Raina’s captaincy was better than expected and for a new team Gujarat Lions played so well as a group. It was unfortunate that they lost both their qualifiers and could not progress into the playoff stage, but it was great following the team.
Now, IPL 2017 has arrived. Good luck, Gujarat Lions.