Three successful UAE-based businessmen, including the co-owner of UAE Royals, have joined hands to purchase a team that will compete in the inaugural Ten Cricket League (TCL) in Sharjah later this year.
Brothers Anis and Rizwan Sajan, owners of Danube and Neelesh Bhatnagar, managing director of NB Ventures and co-owner of UAE Royals, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) franchise, have bought a team, which will be named Gujarat Tigers.
Their announcement came less than 24 hours after reports emerged of the tournament on Wednesday evening.
According to various outlets, the 10-over competition will run from December 21-24 at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium and will see the likes of Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi in action over 90 minutes.
Shaji Ul-Mulk, president of TCL, confirmed to Sport360° that a press conference will be announced later to reveal further details.
For Anis, who is described as ‘Mr Cricket’ of the UAE, due to his passion for the sport as well as owning successful UAE teams Danube Tigers and Danube Lions, and Masters Champions League outfit Sagittarius Strikers, he is thrilled to be back in the game.
“We thought a name like Gujarat Tigers would be good because the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is from Gujarat and that’s why we preferred to choose that city,” explained Anis, who will also mentor the Indian cricket team during next month’s Indoor World Cup in Dubai.
“I’m really happy to be a co-owner of the team because this is a new format. When T20 was first launched, people were not sure how successful it would become and look at it now.”
Bhatnagar, says the opportunity to co-own a sports team was one he could not turn down. “I co-own the UAE Royals in the International Premier Tennis League and this will be the second team I’ll be co-owning and am really exciting with this new venture,” he said.
While Bhatnagar and Anis have both expressed their desire to sign blistering batsman Gayle during the draft, the latter believes the competition has the potential to exceed expectations.
“If this tournament is pulled off well and there’s crowd and there is the right kind of players playing, this is going to be a tournament like the big football leagues that are all over the world,” he said.
“It will be a super tournament and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the other countries start launching their own competitions. I think this will take UAE to another level.”