The Knight Riders Group has acquired the rights to own and operate the Abu Dhabi franchise, which has been named Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, in UAE’s new six-team T20 league.
“For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the UAE,” Shah Rukh Khan was quoted as saying in a statement. “We are excited about becoming part of UAE’s T20 League, which no doubt will become hugely successful”.
Knight Riders’ foray into the league makes them the sixth franchise owner in the tournament. The other five firms that have already brought franchise rights comprise: Adani Group, an Ahmedabad-based Indian infrastructure company, Capri Global, a non-banking financial company based in India, Lancer Capital, the owners of Manchester United Football Club, Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, the owners of Mumbai Indians and GMR Group, co-owners of Delhi Capitals.
“The commitment to grow the T20 format and the expertise gathered by the Knight Riders Group, through their involvement in franchise cricket across the world, is undisputed,” Khalid Al Zarooni, UAE T20 League chairman, said. “We are exceptionally pleased with their foresight to join forces with the UAE’s T20 League and firmly believe it will elevate the reputation, and professionalism of the League throughout the cricket community.”
The league, comprising 34 matches, was originally meant to be played in the February-March bracket, but the Emirates Cricket Board remains confident it will host the inaugural edition of the league in 2022.
ESPNcricinfo understands that one probable window would be in June, immediately after the IPL which is scheduled to end on May 29.
Venky Mysore, CEO of Kolkata Knight Riders, said: “We feel fortunate to have been consistently recognized as a global brand in T20 cricket. As T20 cricket expands around the world, we are flattered by the regular invitations to play a major role in growing the sport across the world. We have had a keen interest in the developments in the UAE and our expansion is consistent with our long-term strategy”.