Raina, Gambhir rue absence of big players

Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav will miss out on action for their respective teams on Friday.

Ravindra Jadeja (right) and Umesh Yadav are advised rest for two IPL games by the BCCI.   -  AP

Seldom do you hear captains using phrases like “surprise” and “big blow” even before the beginning of an Indian Premier League edition. Such has been the impact of unavailability of a plethora of main players that Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir – who will lead Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively in their tournament-opener on Friday – had to resort to the terminology.

Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav, two of India's brightest spots in the recently-concluded season of Test cricket at home, have been advised rest by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the first two games of their respective teams.

“I think it’s a big blow but I think BCCI wanted him to rest for two games so he’ll join the side after two games. Still we have couple of youngsters, spinners, as well as good fast bowlers. We have a good batting line-up, so when he comes our team would be fully strengthful (sic),” Raina said ahead of his team's extended floodlit training session.

“I think Ravindra will be back after two games and Dwayne (Bravo) is doing his rehab. His trainer is here, the doctor is there so I can’t say much on Dwayne Bravo right now.”

Gambhir echoed similar sentiments with Yadav's absence. “Umesh, that's gonna be a bit of a surprise because with the form that he was in, if we could start with him, would have been a big advantage,” he said.

“But then it gives other people an opportunity as well. We have got a pretty good bowling attack. We have got a lot of experience in our bowling attack as well, so hopefully the guys can deliver as well. As I said, if someone misses, someone gets an opportunity as well, especially in the first two games and we hope they can deliver.”

Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders had both made it to the Playoffs last year but couldn't make it to the final. Gambhir, however, stressed that the previous season of an IPL has no bearing on the season coming ahead. “It really doesn't matter. For me, it's a new season, and in the T20 format things can change very quickly. It’s the first game for both the teams so there will be nerves, there will be a bit of jitteriness (sic),” he said. “Whoever is going to handle that pressure well will come out on top. Without Andre Russell we need to get our combination right because he was a big impact player for us but we’ve got some new recruits so let’s see how they perform for us.”