The Gujarat Lions are a professional cricket team that plays in the Indian Premier League. The Gujarat Lions were founded in 2016, created to fill one of the gaps left by the Knights and the Super Kings, two successful teams that were suspended from the league for two years.
The Gujarat Lions play in orange and blue and their stadium is the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, which is located in their home city of Rajkot. This is a state of the art, 28,000 capacity stadium that was built in 2008 and hosted its first ODI in 2013.
Although they were one of the league’s most successful teams, in 2015 the Chennai Super Kings were suspended from the Indian Premier League for alleged match-fixing. They had claimed two IPL titles and 2 Champions League titles by that time, and they were ranked as the most profitable team in the league and one of the most marketable cricket brands in the world. Their two-year suspension came as a big shock to the league, but also left a hole that the remaining teams were more than happy to fill.
The Rajasthan Royals were involved in the same scandal. The Royals won the very first IPL season and were consistent in the years that followed, but they were not quite as profitable as the Super Kings.
The Gujarat Lions, along with the Rising Pune Supergiants, were chosen to enter the IPL in 2016 following the suspension of two of the league’s biggest teams. The Gujarat Lions will only remain in the league for 2 years.
The Gujarat Lions franchise is owned by Intex Technologies, who make smartphones and other tech for the Indian market. They have been going since 1996 and are led by Delhi businessman and entrepreneur Keshav Bansal.
The Gujarat Lions are due to play in red and early indications are that they will struggle during their short stint in the Indian Premier League. Prior to the start of the 2016 season, the Gujarat Lions were priced as one of the outsiders by many sports betting sites, with pundits predicting that they will finish towards the tail end of the table and that they will struggle to make the playoffs. The same can not be said for the Rising Pune Supergiants who were the second-favorites, but the Supergiants acquired more big-name players in preparation for their inaugural season, and the confidence was much higher in Pune.
Suresh Raina, an Indian cricketer who made his Test debut in 2010, was chosen to captain the Gujarat Lions for their first season. Raina had spent the previous 7 years at the Super Kings, and is therefore no stranger to success. He was first signed for $5 million by the Super Kings, which proved to be money well spent, as he set records for the most runs and generally gave it his all throughout the first few IPL seasons. His form from 2012 was not as consistent, but there were still enough moments of brilliance to make him a huge catch for the Gujarat Lions.
Raina is reported to be earning $1.8 million a year for the Rajkot based team, making him the highest paid player in the Lions squad. The only other players on more than $1 million a year are Brendon McCullum, an experienced Batsman who captained New Zealand and is considered one of their greatest ever players, and Ravindra Jadeja, another Indian international player.
The oldest player in the Gujarat Lions squad is Prvain Vijay Tambe, who was 44 at the beginning of the 2016 season. Tambe was actually 41 when he made his debut in the Indian Premier League, and he spent a couple of seasons with the Rajasthan Royals. Tambe is somewhat of a rags-to-riches success story. He played in the Kanga league for many years, and according to his teammates he didn’t peak until his mid to late thirties, before going on to wow spectators in his forties.
The bowler has not played for his country, but should prove to be an interesting addition to the Gujarat Lions squad for the 2016 season.
There are five species of lion in India, including the endangered Asiatic Lion, which is native to Gujarat. In 2015, months before the Gujarat Lions were founded, a census was performed to discover that just a few hundred lions remain in the state. However, this seems to be on the rise, and the Gujarat Lions cricket team will be hoping that they can follow suit.