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Kerala Kings aim to raise brand value as T10 champions.

Summary: Team co-owner narrates the victory tale and plans to use franchise to promote sports

Shafi Ul Mulk owner of Kerala Kings with Eoin Morgan who led the team to victory in T10 Cricket Image Credit: Kerala Kings K.R. Nayar, Chief Cricket Writer

Dubai: The Kerala Kings who emerged as the champions of the first T10 Cricket League are aiming to raise their brand profile.

Plans are in place to create a fan club and even reach out to other parts of the world.

In an interview with Gulf News, Shafi Ul Mulk, the co-owner of the Kings, said: "Kerala Kings are the first team ever to win a tournament that has been played in T10 format at the international level and as it is a special achievement we want to carry the victory as a movement to spread the love for the game as well as extent the passion for the game among Kerala fans."

Shafi revealed that he was very particular to choose Kerala as his team from among the teams for the tournament. "I was given the choice to select the team and I was very particular I get the Kerala Kings team. The reason for my love is that, though I hail from Andhra Pradesh, as a businessman I have experienced that Keralites are passionate about sports and I have gelled with the Kerala community a lot here. My wife is also from Kerala and I knew that when it comes to backing the team, they will give their best. It is that spirit that we saw at the Sharjah Stadium with fans cheering for the team with drum beats till 2.30am in the final."

England ODI and T20 skipper Eoin Morgan, who led the team, even dedicated the victory to the vociferous Kerala fans.

"The whole Kerala community put their hearts into it," said Shafi." My team sponsorship was sold in just 48 hours. Rexton, 777 and Irish Insurance snapped up the three slots in a flash. The fourth sponsor was my own company Mulk Healthcare Group. The biggest advantage of our team was our team combination. We got it right during the players draft thanks to our coach Robin Singh and Morgan. As a cricketer myself, having captained the Andhra Sri Venkateswara University and opened for Andhra's South Zone team, it helped me understand their plans and provide all backing.

"During the players draft we got the best bowlers in Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz and Shakib Al Hasan with all-rounder Kieron Pollard too. We had over three match winners. Frankly, I did not believe that Morgan could fire like he fired in the matches. Paul Stirling, who is Morgan's childhood friend. was the most consistent with three fifties. After the match, Stirling even said that no one would have picked him but for Morgan."

Though Kerala Kings emerged as the best. Ul Mulk says that all the opponents were strong. "All the six combinations were very good. Anybody could beat anyone and they did. We were lucky with the toss too as 10 out of nine teams that chased did win. Our team's bowling played a big role. Sohail Tanvir bowled one of his best spells in the final. He won three best bowler awards from the matches. Overall all combinations were excellent and the result is a victory of the T10 format."

Shafi wants Kerala Kings victory to become a movement to attract more people into sports. "I was born in a sports-loving family. My father is Nawab Alaf Khan who played international football for India and was vice president of Indian Football Federation for many years. So my brother Shaji Ul Mulk (the chairman of T10 Cricket League who visualised the T10 format) and I grew up with love for sports. When the Kerala Kings made its presence in the social media we had just 2000 followers. After our first win it increased to 4000 and then raced to over 200,000 and soon we will have over a million followers. We want to keep the momentum going as a franchise to inspire sportsmen, involve Kerala's leading businessmen and garner Kerala government's support and even stage a Kerala Kings league. We have created a platform for cricket and we want everyone to ride on Kerala Kings's success," he said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 21, 2017
Words:735
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