The Mumbai Indians global (MI Global) has recently broadened its brand in the global T20 leagues. The Ambani-owned franchise went on to buy two franchises for UAE's International League T20 (ILT20) and the Cricket South Africa T20 league (SA20).
The ILT20 team is named as MI Emirates and the SA20 team is named MI Cape Town. And on Friday, they announced the captains for the two teams. West Indies and Mumbai Indians legend Kieron Pollard will be leading the MI Emirates team while Afghan spin wizard Rashid Khan is set to captain the MI Cape Town side.
Kieron Pollard has been a stalwart for MI in the IPL and recently retired from IPL after he was released by the Mumbai Indians. Rashid Khan, who plays for Gujarat Titans in the IPL, is the marquee player for the MI Cape Town team.
"We're extremely pleased to announce our captains for our extended MI Global one family for the cricketing season 2023," Akash Ambani said.
Earlier in August, they announced the name of both teams after acquiring them. Nita Ambani, Director of Reliance Industries, said, "It gives me great pleasure to welcome 'MI Emirates' & 'MI Cape Town', the newest additions to our #Onefamily.
"For us, MI goes beyond cricket. It embodies the ability to dream, be fearless and foster a positive attitude in life. I am sure that both MI Emirates and MI Cape Town will embrace the same ethos and take MI's global cricket legacy to even greater heights."
But how can the pair elevate their respective teams to the heights that their parent team Mumbai Indians have reached? Mumbai Indians are the most successful IPL franchise with 5 titles to their name. But can Pollard and Rashid kickstart a couple of more triumphant chapters?
Well, this is a tricky one. Kieron Pollard has been one of the stalwarts of the game. He has played T20 cricket across the globe and has all the world of experience. In the MI Emirates squad, he will be having the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Trent Boult alongside him who are veterans of the game. Given the playing grounds and conditions in the UAE, it will be more suited to Pollard's style of play and he can stamp his leadership skills big time. Also, most of the players are rich in experience and ideas, hence it won't be a problem for Pollard to find a solution in adverse situations. They have a team with some top players and look like a strong outfit on paper.
For Rashid Khan, things will be a lot more challenging. Rashid will have to get his bowling right at their home ground in Cape Town, which is not known to be that spinner friendly. He has more of a younger squad to deal with, hence it will be a bit more upstream for him. Rashid has the ikes of Liam Livingstone, Kagiso Rabada and Odean Smith in the squad, on whom he can't turn so much as they don't have a lot of experience in captaincy. But they have a decent squad. Players like Dewald Brevis, Sam Curran, Olly Stone and Rassie van der Dussen will be key for them and together they look like a decent unit. It will be all about settling down quickly in the new circumstances for Rashid as he hasn't had much exposure to the South African conditions.
Both Pollard and Rashid will be hoping to have the perfect start with their respective teams. They have quality and vast experience, and if they can apply things accordingly, there is no doubt the new MI franchises will be having glory days ahead.