Indian Premier League’s Kolkata Knight Riders, co-owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, have become a key partner in the bid to launch Major League Cricket in the United States, the team said on Tuesday.
The two-time IPL champions have signed on for a “long-term strategic partnership (that) will include financial investment and significant expertise”, a statement said.
Major League Cricket, featuring six city-based franchises, is aiming to launch in 2022, bringing “world-class T20 cricket to America for the very first time”, it added.
“For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the USA,” Khan said in the statement.
“We are convinced that Major League Cricket has all the pieces in place to execute on its plans and we look forward to making our partnership an enormous success.”
The announcement did not say whether the Knight Riders will hold a controlling stake in the new Twenty20 league whose parent company, American Cricket Enterprises, aims to bring in top players from around the world.
ACE last month said an unused baseball stadium in Texas will be converted into a permanent cricket venue as part of plans to bring the T20 World Cup to America by 2031.
Efforts to popularise cricket in the United States have been sporadic. In 2015, Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar and Australian spin legend Shane Warne played an All-Stars series in New York, Houston and Los Angeles.
In September, American fast bowler Ali Khan joined up with the Knight Riders at the IPL in United Arab Emirates, but was unable to play because of injury.
Khan, 29, played a key role in the US gaining ODI status at the World Cricket League Division Two event in Namibia last year.