Sunil Narine
Mystery spinner Sunil Narine, who has been a key player for Kolkata Knight Riders, will now be part of the team in Abu Dhabi in UAE International Twenty20 League. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The wait is over. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders group have announced a strong line-up for the UAE International Twenty20 League to be held early next year.

Following in the footsteps of MI Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders also reposed their faith in veteran West Indian Twenty20 specialists, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell, who have won many a battles for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

Adding firepower to the duo is the dazzling English batter Jonny Bairstow, who rewrote the Test match chase in England with a stunning counter-attack, almost similar to Twenty20 contests, to overhaul stiff targets in the fourth innings.

Andre Russell
West Indian all-rounder and Twenty20 specialist Andre Russell has been and integral part of Knight Riders family in various parts of the world. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Global footprint

“Firstly it’s great to see our global footprint continues to grow in line with our vision and strategy. KKR in IPL, TKR in CPL and ADKR in ILT20,” said Venky Mysore, CEO, Knight Riders, in a statement.

The Knight Riders Group, which is led by Bollywood superstar, Shah Rukh Khan, along with Juhi Chawla & her husband Jay Mehta, have established their fourth T20 franchise around the world in IPL, CPL, MLC and now Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in UAE’s International T20 league.

Jonny Bairstow
Dashing England batter has been rewriting history with his aggressive style of batting in Tests. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

“It’s terrific that we have our mainstays — Sunil Narine and Andre Russell as part of the ADKR. We are really delighted that Jonny Bairstow joins the Knight Riders family and will no doubt play a huge part in ADKR’s journey in ILT20,” Mysore added.

Strong island flavour

The squad has a strong mix of two cricket-playing island nations, West Indies and Sri Lanka, with just five other nationalities in the 14-member line-up announced so far.

“We are also delighted that Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Ali Khan, Colin Ingram and Seekuge Prasanna, who have been part of TKR before, are also a part of ADKR.

“A big welcome to Paul Stirling, Charith Asalanka, Kennar Lewis, Lahiru Kumara, Raymon Riefer and Brandon Glover to the Knight Riders family. The ILT20 promises to be an exciting tournament and we are looking forward to very competitive games and a lot of entertainment,” the Knight Riders CEO said, adding local UAE players will be added to the draft.

Key objectives

Commenting on the team-structure, Mubashshir Usmani, Emirates Cricket’s General Secretary, said: “It’s exciting to see how well the squads are shaping up for the first season of ILT20. Each team will consist of 18 players, including 4 UAE players and 2 from ICC Associate countries. One of the key objectives for ILT20 is to provide opportunities for players from UAE and other Associate nations to perform on the big stage.”

Making its debut in January 2023, the inaugural ILT20, which has received multi-year ICC approval, will be played in a 34-match format across the UAE’s exemplary, world-class facilities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Reliance Industries Limited, Lancer Capital, the GMR Group, Capri Global and Knight Riders have acquired a team each in UAE’s T20 League.

Excitied to be part of the league

Shah Rukh Khan, commenting on the long-term agreement with the league, said: “For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the UAE. We are excited about becoming part of UAE’s T20 League, which no doubt will become hugely successful.”

The team:

Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Jonny Bairstow, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Ali Khan, Colin Ingram, Seekuge Prasanna, Paul Stirling, Charith Asalanka, Kennar Lewis, Lahiru Kumara, Raymon Riefer and Brandon Glover.