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No Dhoni. No Kohli. No broadcasters for India-Bangladesh series?

The BCCI has been table-thumping India’s standing as cricket’s economic powerhouse to all and sundry but that claim is now being put to the test.

India is sending an under-strength team to play three ODIs in Bangladesh starting on 15 June and so far there are no takers to telecast the series in India, according to the Mumbai Mirror.

Suresh Raina will captain India in Bangladesh. Getty Images

Suresh Raina will captain India in Bangladesh. Getty Images

The paper reports the lack of star power – MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli. Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and R Ashwin are all being rested – and the BCCI’s own vindictive attitude has caused a problem for Gazi TV, the Bangladesh right’s holders.

Ten Sports and Nimbus are not options for Gazi because the BCCI is fighting both organisations in court. That leaves only two other options – Star Sports and Sony Six.

However, Sony is televising the 2014 FIFA World Cup and declined to televise the Bangladesh series as it had already planned its programming schedule and could not accommodate more live sports. Star Sports did make an offer but Mumbai Mirror says it was just Rs 5 crore per match, which does not cover even one-eighth of the cost of broadcasting the matches in India.

"Because of the BCCI’s problems with Neo and Ten, we can’t sell the rights to them,” Salahuddin Cowdhury, the CFO of the Gazi Group, told the paper. “Unless something dramatic happens over the next two days, I cannot assure you that the matches will be telecast in India.”

There is one series-saving alternative open to Gazi, which is to partner with Doordarshan, India’s state owned broadcaster. Doordarshan is reportedly open to a revenue-sharing deal but with the series due to begin in three days and the World Cup starting today, just how much revenue can be generated through advertising is an open question.

When the BCCI forced its takeover of the ICC, the bedrock of its argument was that it contributed far more revenue than any other country (leave aside for the moment that it refused to show how those revenues were calculated). It also promised countries that voted for the ICC revamp more India tours. The hastily arranged three-ODI tour of Bangladesh is one of those tours.

But instead of helping generate additional revenue for Bangladesh, the Indian tour is attracting little interest. Yes, it would probably have been different if Dhoni et all had been playing but all that proves is that Indian fans (and broadcasters) love their stars, not their sport. It also shows that younger players such as Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara don't command the same box office interest. Cricket, and the ICC, would do well to heed that lesson.


Updated Date: Jun 12, 2014 17:41 PM

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