<strong>Mumbai: </strong>Five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians (MI) on Wednesday announced that Mahela Jayawardene and Zaheer Khan are being elevated to new roles as part of the franchise's central team for its growing global cricket footprint. Jayawardene, the former Sri Lanka skipper who became the head coach of the franchise since 2017 and under whom MI won three IPL titles, has now been appointed as the Global Head of Performance. Zaheer, ex-India left-arm pacer, who joined the side as Director of Cricket Operations in 2018, has been appointed as Global Head of Cricket Development. <p></p> <p></p>The move comes at a time when the Reliance Industries, owners of Mumbai Indians, recently acquired franchises in UAE's ILT20 and South Africa's SA20 leagues. While the UAE franchise is named MI Emirates, the South Africa franchise is called MI Cape Town. Both leagues are scheduled to begin in January next year. <p></p> <p></p>In his new role, Jayawardene will provide senior leadership of the group's cricket operations worldwide, including overall strategic planning, the creation of an integrated global high-performance eco-system, as well as responsibility for each team's coaching and support structures, working closely with the team head coaches to ensure synergies, a consistent brand of cricket, and implementation of best practices set by MI. <p></p> <p></p>"It is an absolute honour for me to lead MI's global cricket operations. Mrs. Ambani and Akash's leadership and guidance have made MI the most valued global cricket franchise and I am very happy to see MI grow globally. I look forward to this new responsibility to build a strong cohesive global brand of cricket," said Jayawardene in an official statement. <p></p> <p></p>Zaheer's new role will see him be responsible for player development, building on MI's robust programme around talent identification and grooming and adopting the same across geographies, which has been core philosophy and has contributed to MI's success in IPL. Each geography comes with its unique set of challenges and Zaheer's elevated role will play an important role helping all three franchises across the globe. <p></p> <p></p>"I am humbled to take on this new role and thank Mrs. Nita Ambani and Akash for their faith in me. MI has been home for me as a player and as a coaching team member, and now as we embark on a new journey, I look ahead to working closely with all the stakeholders in the global network to unearth new potential that can join the family," added Zaheer. <p></p> <p></p>"I'm happy to have Mahela and Zak as part of our global core team. Both have been an integral part of the MI family and embody the spirit of the cricket MI stands for. I'm confident that they would be able to ensure the same flows through all our teams globally and make a difference in the cricketing ecosystems across the globe," said Akash M. Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Jio Infocomm. <p></p> <p></p>Mumbai are the only team apart from four-time IPL winners Chennai Super Kings to successfully defend their title, which they did in 2020. After missing the playoffs in 2021, the side had a disappointing last place finish in the 10-team event in IPL 2022, winning just four out of 14 matches in the league stage.