Three prominent IPL franchises have bought stakes in Major League Cricket (MLC), a new T20 franchise league in the USA, which is scheduled to be launched this July. Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals, ESPNcricinfo has learned, have all bought stake in the MLC and will anchor franchises in New York, Texas and Seattle respectively.
That means four out of the six teams in MLC overall will be helmed by IPL franchises, after Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the earliest investors in the tournament, took charge of the Los Angeles franchise. While Mumbai, like Knight Riders, will run the New York franchise on its own, Capitals will run the Seattle franchise in partnership with Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella. While Capitals in the IPL is co-owned by the GMR Sports Private Ltd and Jindal Sports West, it is learned that it is the former that has entered into a partnership with Nadella to run the Seattle franchsie.
In a media release issued on Thursday, the MLC confirmed the alliance between Seattle franchise and Capitals, and said the team would be called Seattle Orcas. Other than Nadella and GMR, the other investors in the Orcas franchise comprise Soma Somasegar (managing director of Madrona Ventures), Samir Bodas (co-founder and CEO, Icertis), Ashok Krishnamurthi (managing partner, GreatPoint Ventures) and Sanjay Parthasarathy (former senior executive at Microsoft and Avalara).
Super Kings, too, have allied with a local investor in the Texas franchise.
The two other franchises in the league are based out of Washington DC and San Francisco. The Washington DC franchise - to be called Washington Freedom - is owned by local American investor Sanjay Govil, who has tied up with New South Wales Cricket
, to provide the operational expertise including helping set up the squad and putting a cricketing structure in place. A similar strategic tie-up has been struck between San Francisco franchise, owned by Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, and Cricket Victoria.
The development aligns with the constant endeavour of IPL franchises to expand their brands outside of India. All the four IPL franchises that have bought stakes in MLC are already part of more than one overseas domestic T20 franchise leagues. Outside of MLC, Mumbai own teams in South Africa's SA20 and the UAE-based International League T20 (ILT20), Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League and ILT20, Super Kings in SA20, and Capitals (GMR) in ILT20 and SA20.
The inaugural season of MLC will be played between July 13 and 30 at the newly renovated facility in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas, with the player draft for local US players scheduled to be on March 19 at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. The squad size will comprise minimum 15 and maximum 18 players, of which nine can be overseas players. At least six players in the playing XI will need to be from the USA. The overseas players will be direct signings by the franchises, not part of the draft.
It is understood that teams will have a purse of USD 800,000 for overseas signings and USD 300,000 for the US-based players.