Picture Credit: BCCI/IPL

Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians are looking at an expansion with Reliance Industries Limited, the owner of the franchise, set to own a new team in the Emirates Cricket Board-backed UAE T20 League. The six-team competition will commence early in 2022 with two more IPL franchises also buying a team in it. These are none other than Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders.

The other three teams in the competition are likely to be owned by Glazer family of Manchester United in the United Kingdom, Sidney Sixers from Australia and Capri Industries from UAE.

"Reliance Industries Limited, through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL) will be acquiring the rights to own and operate a new franchise cricket team in the Emirates Cricket Board's upcoming UAE T20 League," the organisers of the tournament mentioned in an official statement on Wednesday.

First major expansion in cricket operations for Mumbai Indians

The development is a significant one since this will be the first major overseas expansion of RIL's cricketing venture in global leagues. Other franchises like the Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings and even the Rajasthan Royals already have teams participating in different leagues around the world including the Caribbean Premier League. It was only a matter of time before Mumbai Indians, the richest franchise in the cash-rich IPL, would have expanded its business.

"We aim to transform cricket in UAE through UAE T20 League. Our wider plan includes expansion of cricket through various development programs being conducted in UAE by the League franchises including talent hunts, coaching, and training by some of the best in the business," Chairman of the UAE T20 League and Vice-Chairman ECB Khalid Al Zarooni said in an official release.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians co-owner Nita Ambani also said that the most successful IPL team to date will continue to remain at the heat of their cricket operations even as they look to expand.

"While Mumbai Indians will continue to remain at the heart of our cricket operations, the popularity of global T20 leagues and the attractiveness of the UAE market offer a unique opportunity for us to further unlock the value of our sports management expertise. It also allows us a platform to develop young international talent and share best practices both on and off the field," she stated.