Cable TV

Will Incablenet-ESS imbroglio play spoilsport for Ind-Aus cricket?

MUMBAI: Come 4 December, ESPN STAR Sports will air India's tour Down Under, vying for viewership and ratings with election analyses on domestic news channels.

ESS is airing, live and exclusive from the land of Kangaroos, the four-test series between India and Australia followed by a triangular India, Australia and Zimbabwe tournament.

While that is good news for cricket lovers in India, Incablenet subscribers in Mumbai, who have been bearing the brunt of the blackout by the twin channels on Incablenet, are hoping for the stalemate to work out and soon.


 When contacted, the Incablenet spokesperson maintained that talks were going on in full steam and some arrangement was being worked out considering that the test and triangular series would not be available to Incablenet subscribers in Mumbai. ESS claims long pending subscription dues in excess of Rs 71 million.

However, the spokesperson declined to comment on the current status of talks, as there was, at present, nothing concrete in terms of developments. On the winding up petition which ESS has filed against Incablenet, all the Incablenet spokesperson had to say was that the judicial procedure will take its time.

Star Sports will air the first test at Brisbane live from 4 - 8 December, the second test at Adelaide from 12 - 16 December, the third test at Melbourne from 26 - 30 December, and the fourth of the series at Sydney from 2 - 6 January.

The Gabba wicket at Brisbane, which is known for its pace and bounce, has never been kind to the touring Indians right from their first tour in the 1947-48 season. The Indians had lost the first test of that tour by 226 runs. And the story wasn't any different later either. India toured Australia thereafter on six more occasions and played at the Gabba in 1967-68, 1977-78 and 1991-92 seasons. In the first two, Indians had a pretty close shave - losing out by 39 runs in 1967-68 and by a mere 16 runs in 1977-78, but went under by ten wickets in the last one.

But then, the Indian team has had a reputation of doing well just when they are written off. It is to be seen if this series can help the Indian cricket team break the 17-year-old jinx.

The four-test series will be followed by the India, Australia and Zimbabwe tri-series, which has been scheduled to start on 9 January with an Australia vs India. The first final has been scheduled for 6 February, the second final for 8 February while the grand finale is scheduled for 10 February 2004.

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