The owners of IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders have bought a stake in Caribbean Premier League franchise Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel. It is the first instance of an IPL franchise investing in an overseas Twenty20 league.
“This is in line with our vision to expand globally. We are thrilled to become part of the cricketing tradition of Trinidad & Tobago,” Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of Knight Riders, told the Times of India. “The passion for franchise cricket in the Caribbean is evident with the success of CPL and we hope to bring all the best practices of KKR to the T&T franchise.”
KKR’s announcement coincided with Hero Motors, an Indian company, being unveiled as the tournament’s title sponsors for 2015. Hero had been presenting sponsors in 2014 for two of the six CPL teams, champions Barbados Tridents and St Lucia Zouks.
Red Chillies Entertainment, the parent company of KKR, has been able to encash on the mass following of two of their co-owners. Khan and Juhi Chawla are popular Hindi film actors and their presence had helped Knight Riders become one of the first IPL franchises to break even.
Indian diaspora being the dominant ethnicity in Trinidad & Tobago, Red Steel was an appealing choice for the Red Chillies management.
Venky Mysore, chief executive officer of Red Chillies, hoped that the two-time IPL champions Knight Riders’ success would be duplicated in the CPL. “KKR has been fortunate to be recognized as one of the most professionally managed franchises in IPL,” Mysore said. “That experience has encouraged us to expand globally .The idea is to replicate our success in the CPL, keeping the growing interest in this [T20] format in mind.”
Caribbean cricketers have emerged as the most sought-after overseas lot in the IPL. Offspinner Sunil Narine and allrounder Andre Russell are key players for Knight Riders. The CPL was launched in 2013 with six franchises. Red Steel, lead by Dwayne Bravo, couldn’t make it to the final in the first two editions of the tournament.