Seven years ago, when Sanjiv Goenka stepped into the world of the Indian Premier League, he sprung in a surprise by roping in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes and Steven Smith in his new franchise — Rising Pune Supergiant.
In its two-year stint, the franchise managed to reach the final of the tournament in 2017. And now, as Goenka returns to the IPL bandwagon with his new team — Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) — he has roped in top-class professionals again.
While Gautam Gambhir was brought in as the mentor of the side, Lucknow managed to appoint K.L. Rahul as the captain. The franchise also signed up Ravi Bishnoi and Marcus Stoinis before the auction.
Goenka and his team ensured that they got the combination right by snapping up wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, batter Manish Pandey, all-rounders Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya and West Indies’ Jason Holder. It also managed to get some of the seasoned Indian players in K. Gowtham, Shahbaz Nadeem, Avesh Khan and Manan Vohra.
“We are very happy with the way it’s gone so far. We have got a great opener in Quinton, a very good all-rounder in Jason Holder. We have two quality Indian batsmen,” Goenka said during the auction.
Even before the auction, in an interaction with the official broadcaster, Goenka had spoken highly of captain Rahul and why the team decided to hand him the role of a leader.
“I have been very impressed by not only KL’s batting and wicket-keeping abilities, but his leadership skills as well. He is evolving, growing, maturing as a player and as a leader. He is somebody I would've wanted to lead the team. And I do believe, given the right atmosphere, he will emerge as a phenomenal leader, and he has everything it takes to succeed,” Goenka said.
Talking about the team’s decision to retain Bishnoi — who was yet to make his debut for India at that time — and Stoinis, Goenka said: “There were multiple things. We were looking at not only building a team for one or two seasons, as we did in the case of Pune, but actually, building the foundation for a team, which will compete successfully for many years. We were also looking for players with more than one facet, so not singular-dimension players.”
“So, KL is not only an outstanding batsman, he’s a great wicketkeeper. Marcus is a great finisher, a good bowler, and a phenomenal fielder. Ravi brings a unique dimension to the spin department and is an exceptional fielder. So we looked for players who could do more than just one thing, players who would be with the franchise for several years. And KL is in the batting department, Marcus is an all-rounder and Ravi is a bowler, so we have tried to cover all the three departments,” the franchise owner said.
While the immediate target is to make its presence felt in the tournament, the Lucknow franchise also wants to dream big in the years to come. With Rahul at the helm, the new team has lots to play for.