Gujarat Lions coach Brad Hodge confirmed that captain Suresh Raina will be missing his first ever match in the Indian Premier League history when his team faces Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Saturday.
"He is not coming. He is with his wife and child. So, this will be the first time in the history of the IPL that Raina will be missing a match," he told reporters on the eve of the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chinnaswamy stadium here.
Probably Brendon McCullum would take the leadership tomorrow, he added.
Hodge further said it will be a huge loss for the team as he is a player with a lot of IPL experience.
"It is a huge loss if someone has almost 4,000 runs in the IPL history. Having said that we have got some players who can step into his shoes. We have players like Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo - they are all match winners. They can step up and win a game from any position," he said. Hodge said the team has not decided on who will lead the side.
"We haven't decided yet ... so, we will make a call tomorrow. I imagine on this wicket there are plenty of blokes who would put their hand up as number three batsman. We will try our best to cover Suresh Raina's absence," he said.
Asked whether Gujarat Lions are bit concerned about their net runrate, Hodge said this worry would obviously nullify if the team continues its winning streak.
Replying to a query, Hodge said his side matches the batting prowess of the RCB, but are well aware of the vulnerability of its bowlers.
"We have got most of the space covered. We have got very good defensive bowling lineup but we have good batting lineup. Whichever way it goes, we certainly have got power which matches RCB's, but we also know how vulnerable they have been with the ball," he said.
Asked about Shivu Kaushik, Hodge said he is an outstanding player and has commendable work ethics, but he needs to improve on his fielding.
Asked what makes Gujarat Lions such a successful team, Hodge counted on Raina's captaincy and match-winning players including Bravo.
"We have had some excellent leadership from Suresh Raina. I have give him freedom to be his captain. He has been, for a long time, behind Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and it was his first opportunity as a captain to come in and explore," he said.