Shah Rukh Khan, the co-owner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), is optimistic about the new players he has hired for the upcoming season.
But there remains one batsman and off-break bowler, who he seems to be banking on this year. “This time Yusuf will be the Don of our team. Let’s see who can catch him,” says Shah Rukh, about the sportsperson who has been playing for KKR since 2011. Adds Shah Rukh, “We, the team, are working like a family. We have been given a lot of love and respect and we feel responsible to take that forward.”
Season five of the cricket tournament will kick-start on April 4. Incidentally, the actor, who is currently shooting for the untitled Yash Chopra film opposite Katrina Kaif, may find himself in the middle of a schedule during the matches. But he insists he has set aside time for his team.
“The days that I am shooting on, do not have any KKR matches,” says Shah Rukh, adding, “In the first edition it was bit hectic, as I was travelling with the team, but it’s not that tough (making time) this year.”
Despite the IPL being engulfed in a myriad of controversies, Shah Rukh is certain that the league’s popularity is intact. “When it comes to sports, we draw conclusions quickly. Of course, it will have his ups and downs. The BCCI (Board for Control for Cricket in India) is a veteran body and there are many cricketing and business minds running it. It’s too early to say whether the passion has faded or the viewership, fallen. I don’t think it has,” says Shah Rukh.
Convinced that the success of this tournament will also open doors for other sports, he adds, “This is going to sustain. It’s an exciting thing. We hope and pray that this extends to soccer, hockey and shooting also. A little bit of privatisation and a central governing body will take these games forward and I think that’s going to happen soon.”