Johannesburg - 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.”
The Independent on Saturday