Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh Khan is confident increased availability of international players will make the team more competitive in the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The franchise finished sixth in the inaugural IPL when they struggled to build momentum with various departures and arrivals of non-Indian players, whose participation was cut short by international commitments.
But while Australia captain Ricky Ponting has ruled himself out of this season’s glitz-and-glamour Twenty20 spectacular to rest, Khan believes the presence of other foreign stars will boost the Knight Riders.
“Internationally, I think the players will be more available, so we have the whole team to begin with,” he told a media conference at a five-star hotel soon after arriving in this south-west city.
“We’ll have Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum, and then David Hussey will join us when Gayle has to leave. Brad Hodge is here, and so is Sourav Ganguly. Everyone has been practising over the past 10 days.
“We are working on amazing plans, including the captaincy issue, which has been a controversy over the past month. I think overall we are very well prepared.
“Unfortunately, we do have injuries but we’ll be there, one hundred percent trying to do much better than last year.”
English stars are competing in the Twenty20 league for the first time, but none will represent the Knight Riders, due in no small part to high price tags.
“We have gold and black as a uniform, but the gold is not real,” joked Khan. “We are a poor team and English players are very, very expensive.
“We would really like to have had them, but the auction rules and it’s down to how much money you have.”
Khan said the franchise was looking to appeal to a young fan base and encourage children to become more involved in sport, and admitted image was their main attraction.
“I don’t know about the cricket,” he said, “but we are the coolest-looking team.”