Preity gunning for the Kings’ success in IPL-III

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the cricket refresher course for Bollywood actress Preity Zinta is over. For someone who thought cricket was just about cheering for India in matches against Pakistan, Zinta can now talk about the fielding positions and bowling changes, so she has come a long way.

As you enter her room in a luxury hotel in the City, you can sense what the game has done to her. The India-South Africa match is on the telly and Zinta, wearing the bright red Kings XI Punjab tee shirt, is praying for a miracle. South Africa have piled on the runs and just when the Indians appeared game, Rohit Sharma loses his cool and his wicket and Zinta can see the writing on the wall: “Oh god, he should have been on the crease for little more time. Looks difficult now.”

She then turns her focus on the forthcoming Indian Premier League and wants to chat up on her team, the Kings XI. “It is fantastic to be back home (Punjab) for IPL-III — the home is where the heart is. I am very excited as we will be having a new venue in Dharamshala, which is also our catchment area. So we will reach out to our fans in Himachal Pradesh. Basically, it will act as connect between the team and the fans in that area and help us in increasing our accessibility.”

Incidentally, Zinta has her roots in Himachal Pradesh.

Soon, the conversation veers towards close friend Yuvraj Singh and the way he was removed as Kings XI captain. She doesn’t buy any conspiracy theory in substituting Yuvraj with Kumar Sangakkara as the captain: “We are one team. We win together and lose together. Yuvraj is our most valuable player and is the backbone of Kings XI Punjab. We have shuffled our team but so has every IPL team. If you look at Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers, Deccan Chargers or Rajasthan Royals, changes have taken place there too. We would want Yuvraj to take it easy on the captaincy responsibility and play without any pressure. He is a match-winner.”

Kings XI Punjab made it to the semifinal in the first IPL, but failed to reach the last four in the second IPL held in South Africa and would be under pressure to show their worth this year.

Brett Lee’s injuries and retirement from Test cricket is also on the mind of the Kings XI co owner. Throwing light on her players availability during the IPL, Zinta said, “Brett Lee is going to come during IPL-III as of now. In fact, all the Australians have committed their availability.”

She also brushed aside the rumour that Kings XI Punjab has been sold to Hero Honda. “The rumour was quite hilarious. Nothing of that sort happened. I was also shocked on hearing the news,” she said.

Zinta also rubbished security concerns for foreign teams during IPL. She said, “If the South Africans can take part in the month-long series, then I guess any team can. We need to have trust and faith in the system and not let such things affect the spirit of game.”

Zinta’s heart beats for Sachin Tendulkar. “I am a huge Sachin Tendulkar (captain Mumbai Indians) fan. When there is a match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians, I always pray that my team wins but at the same time I want Sachin to do well. He is a legend. Sportspersons like Micheal Shumachar, Pete Sampras, Maradona have already retired from sport but Sachin is still on the very top. I watched his knock of 200 on TV. I was out for some work when I got a call from a friend-cum-neighbour. He was like ‘it is an emergency, you have to rush back home’. So, there I was watching the record being made on TV along with 30 odd fans.”

Zinta also gave her wishes to the Indian hockey team for the World Cup challenge. She said, “I will be rooting for the Indian hockey team when they take on Pakistan tomorrow. I wish the organizers could have invited me so that I could cheer the Indian team in the stadium. Nevertheless, I will catch the match on TV.”



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