Preity Zinta, owner of the Stellenbosch Kings, during a media conference ahead of the T20 Global League at Val de Vie Estate, Paarl, this week. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackPagePix

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, despite her busy schedule.

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

“I’m a hands-on person, so I definitely will be here,” she told the Saturday Star yesterday.

The Bollywood megastar, who is also the owner of Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab, was in South Africa this week when she announced plans for her newly-acquired T20 Global League franchise.

The 42-year-old was confirmed as the new owner after South African businessman Mushtaq Brey pulled out at the last minute.

“It’s not the cricket part that I'm 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. Everyone is really excited."

Zinta says she is thrilled to have acquired the Stellenbosch Kings, and has high hopes for her team in the debut Global League.

“I feel like a kid in a candy store. I’ve been in this business, but in India it’s a different ball game compared to South Africa.

"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. I'm a little bit nervous, but so grateful for the way things turned out.”

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 captaining the team, and to have coaches like Eric Simons and Stephen Fleming is a blessing, so I'm thrilled and confident that we will do well.”

Zinta says she has a special love of South African cricketers.

“The reason why I and many other cricket lovers from India love South African cricketers is their attitude towards the game.

“I love Hashim Amla; he plays for the 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 that 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 purchased the IPL team 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. I’m very happy he’s close by so we get to hang out and party a bit.”

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. Zinta hasn’t appeared in a Bollywood movie since 2013.

"I’m excited because it’s a very mad film that I’m doing after a very long time.

“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 going to laugh. It’s an action comedy and I'm very excited about it.”

Saturday Star

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