Dubai: Kolkata Knight Riders have won the prestigeous Indian Premier League (IPL) title twice in 12 attempts, while the Shah Rukh co-owned Trinbago Knight Riders have done even better by winning the Caribbean Premier League four out of six times. Between the two of them, in the words of their CEO Venky Mysore, they have succeeded in making the ‘Knight Riders’ the only global brand in T20 franchise cricket.
Answering to the query from Gulf News, Mysore, who has just ended his six-day quarantine on arrival in Abu Dhabi said: ‘‘We have pursued a conscious strategy of making The Knight Riders brand a global one. With our presence through KKR in IPL, through TKR in CPL and even when we established Cape Town Knight Riders in the SA League, the endeavour has been to globalise the Knight Rider brand, build a global fan base and partner with global brands. Through such initiatives, we have now not only become the top brand in IPL but perhaps the only global brand in cricket.’’
According to figures released by Brand Finance, a brand valuation company, earlier this year - KKR was valued at second position at $ 66.5 million among the eight teams after Chennai Super Kings ($ 75 million). Mumbai Indians, at $65.7 million, were placed third.
There was no doubt about the emphatic style in which Trinbago swept to their fourth title by staying unbeaten in 12 matches. ‘‘I have often dreamt of a winning the tournament unbeaten and still pinching myself to believe this has really happened. It’s been a fantastic performance from the TKR boys and I hope it brings a rub-off effect on the IPL,’’ said Mysore, who is credited with the turnaround in the fortunes of KKR ever since he joined them in 2011.
Asked about the replacement for Harry Gurney, the England speedster who has been ruled out of IPL as well as the local Vitality Blast T20 league last month, Mysore stopped short of naming him during an Instagram chat on the KKR’s official handle when he said: ‘‘With due respect to IPL rules, we will need some clearances and will announce the name soon.’’
However, it’s in the public domain now that they have zeroed in on Ali Khan of the USA as Gurney’s replacement - which will make him the first player from that country to take part in IPL.
The strapping Ali Khan grabbed the attention of the KKR team management in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 where he played for Trinbago Knight Riders, taking eight wickets at an economy rate of 7.43. He is also known to deliver balls at a speed of over 140 kmph on a regular basis. Khan has been on KKR’s radar for a while and was on stand-by last season.
Speaking about the other overseas recruitments, KKR are pinning a lot of hopes on Chris Green, the South Africa-born Australian allrounder - whose off spin can be quite an X-factor on the UAE wickets. ‘‘He is a superb cricketer, we have seen him open the bowling, then his batting and leadership. He has been also the captain of Guyana Amazon Warriors in CPL and is a great addition to the team,’’ he said.
Another interesting character who will be a part of the contingent is Pravin Tambe, the 48-year-old leg spinner, who had been a member of the side. “Pravin Tambe has been a revelation, again. For some like Tambe, at his age and this stage of his career, using the word revelation is a bit strange. But every time he gets on the field, even when he doesn’t, when he is not playing, he is the first out, running with drinks, saying something, coming to the boundary line, dropping off drinks and having a word of encouragement,” Mysore said.
While Tambe will not be a part of the squad, he is being flown in ‘‘on popular demand,’’ according to Mysore to be an useful net bowler and motivator to the boys.