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Ten Sports upbeat about India tour of Zimbabwe

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MUMBAI: After all the hue and cry, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has finally decided to go ahead with the Zimbabwe tour, a week after reportedly calling it off.

As per earlier reports, BCCI citing Team India’s fatigue and conflict with broadcaster Ten Sports had decided to cancel the Zimbabwe tour. But after rounds of negotiations between the representatives of the two boards in Barbados, the decision of going ahead with the tour was taken.

Subhash Chandra owned Essel group, the parent company of Ten Sports, which is reportedly investing heavily to form an alternative cricket regulatory board and organise lucrative cricket leagues is what had irked BCCI and thus the decision to call off the series which is to be aired on Ten Sports.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, Rajesh Sethi says, “The tour was never called off officially and we were always prepared for it. Ten Sports shares a very cordial relationship with all the five boards and pleased to have their broadcasting rights (Zimbabwe, South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). We are upbeat about the series.”

Adding some relief to the cricket fans of Zimbabwe board chairman Wilson Manase had earlier said, "While negotiations are still on with respect to Team India tour to Zimbabwe, but it seems confirmed that the tour will go ahead. Consequently Team India is expected in Zimbabwe on the 7th of next month. Team Zimbabwe must get ready and be prepared to give Team India a rousing welcome."

The tour will help Zimbabwe cricket raise some money which they are in real need of, says a cricket expert and historian on condition of anonymity. “In the battle of ego between BCCI and the broadcaster, we should not forget the third stake holder Zimbabwe cricket, which desperately needs to generate revenue. So I am thankful to BCCI that they have decided to go ahead with the tour. From cricket perspective it’s never over till the last ball is bowled and the Bangladesh tour is the proof of that. Zimbabwe cricketers will come hard to the Indians. Having said that the senior bras desperately needed a break and team sent will try their level best to leave a mark. Overall, I expect it to be a good series,” he adds.

Media planning fraternity feels that the ad rate for the series will go down as big names are missing from the team. “MS Dhoni featured in the Forbes list of top 100 richest athletes and he also has a huge fan following and so does Virat Kohli. Hence their absence will make life difficult for the sales team of Ten Sports,” feels a senior media planner who closely deals with sports planning and buying.

Normally for a bilateral series, a 10 second ad slot is sold at Rs 3.5 to Rs 4 lakh. But, with big guns missing from the playing 11, media buyers feel that Ten Sports will be able to fetch around Rs 2 lakh for every 10 second slot.

 “Ad rates are directly proportional to the viewership. Dhoni, Kohli are big names and they generate huge word of mouth which results in higher ad rates. So the fact that they are missing will certainly impact the ad rates. But, if the tour was cancelled it would have yielded nothing. Hence it’s good for all three parties involved that the tour is happening,” says a media planner.

Ajinkya Rahane who was dropped after the first ODI in Bangladesh will be leading the team in Zimbabwe. The selection committee has given a career reviving opportunity to veteran wrist spinner Harbajjan Singh by selecting him in place of Ravichandran Ashwin. Singh’s performance in IPL 2015 was key to Mumbai Indian’s success and was acknowledged by numerous pundits. Now it remains to be seen if Rahane can pull off a successful tour in the land of Lions.

The ODI squad for Zimbabwe tour:  Ajinkya Rahane (capt), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.

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