Pre­ity bats for SA cricket

The Independent on Saturday - - FRONT PAGE - SAMEER NAIK

BOL­LY­WOOD su­per­star Pre­ity Zinta has as­sured lo­cal cricket fans that she’ll be in the stands to show her full sup­port for her T20 team Stel­len­bosch Kings.

The In­dian ac­tress has a new movie com­ing out soon, and has count­less model shoots to at­tend, but says there is no way she will miss watch­ing her newly ac­quired team in ac­tion in Novem­ber.

Zinta, 42, the owner of In­dian Premier League team Kings XI Pun­jab, was in South Africa this week to an­nounce plans for her newly-ac­quired T20 Global League fran­chise.

“It’s not the cricket part I am wor­ried about be­cause we have the best in the busi­ness. But I’m wor­ried about all the other things, the teething prob­lems that come with first-time ex­pe­ri­ence, so I need to make sure I’m here. Also my hus­band and my fam­ily will be com­ing be­cause we all want to go for a sa­fari, and for a lovely wine-tast­ing trip.”

Zinta says she is thrilled to have ac­quired the Stel­len­bosch Kings, and has high hopes for her team. “I feel like a kid in a candy store. I’ve been in this busi­ness, but in In­dia it’s a dif­fer­ent ball game.

“So even though I know what it’s like to run the busi­ness, the fact that you are go­ing to a new coun­try, adapt­ing to a new cul­ture, is very ex­cit­ing.”

Zinta be­lieves she has in­her­ited a very “well-bal­anced team”. “We have a fan­tas­tic bowl­ing line-up, a lot of young ta­lented play­ers, and some hard hit­ters.

“We are also very for­tu­nate to have Faf du Plessis as cap­tain, and to have coaches like Eric Si­mons and Stephen Flem­ing is a bless­ing.

“The rea­son that I and many other cricket lovers from In­dia love South African crick­eters is their at­ti­tude to­wards the game,” Zinta adds.

“I love Hashim Amla; he plays for Kings XI. When I first met him he was the most quiet guy. He in­spires all the young­sters.

“He doesn’t say much, but lets his bat do the talk­ing.”

While Zinta may own two cricket fran­chises, she ad­mits she wasn’t a cricket fan all her life.

“I’m so sorry to break your heart, but I never watched any cricket grow­ing up. I never liked it. In school, I did ath­let­ics; I played bas­ket­ball, ri­fle shoot­ing, karate, and even gym­nas­tics. I did ev­ery­thing be­sides cricket.”

Zinta only got into cricket when she bought the Kings XI Pun­jab in 2008.

“I knew noth­ing about the game. But I was very ea­ger to learn. So I made a barter deal with one of the field­ing coaches from Kings XI. I told him that I would teach him one thing about film ev­ery day if he taught me one thing about cricket.

“Ev­ery day he taught me one thing, like what’s an off-spin­ner, a leg-spin­ner, a bouncer, what does LBW mean, just ba­sic stuff about cricket.

“Af­ter 10 years I’ve learnt a lot, but I wouldn’t say I’m an ex­pert.”

Zinta says she is thrilled that fel­low Bol­ly­wood star Shahrukh Khan has also pur­chased a T20 team in the Global T20 League.

“I love Shahrukh. I started my film ca­reer with him in the movie Dil Se. I started my cricket ca­reer with him in the IPL, and now I’m start­ing my in­ter­na­tional cricket ca­reer with him in South Africa.

“He’s a very dear friend, some­one I re­spect a lot and love, and we have a great re­la­tion­ship.”

Zinta also re­vealed her ex­cite­ment at re­turn­ing to the big screen for the up­com­ing movie Bhaiyyaji Su­per­hitt, which will be re­leased in the next few months. She hasn’t ap­peared in a Bol­ly­wood movie since 2013.

“I reached a point where I didn’t want to do any bub­bly roles. I wanted to do se­ri­ous roles, roles that are heavy-duty.

“This one is a crazy film, I play a crazy char­ac­ter, and I had lots of fun shoot­ing it.

“I think peo­ple are just go­ing to laugh, it’s an ac­tion com­edy… and I’m very ex­cited about it.”

NEW SPIN: Pre­ity Zinta, owner of the Stel­len­bosch Kings, is thrilled with her new crick­et­ing ac­qui­si­tion.

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