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ODI future hinges on India-Oz series

From Sunday, the next 17 days will tell us if one-day cricket is indeed dead. India square off against Australia in seven ODIs, but it will not just be another series — the very future of the 50-over format will be at stake. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

cricket Updated: Oct 24, 2009 01:57 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

From Sunday, the next 17 days will tell us if one-day cricket is indeed dead.

India square off against Australia in seven ODIs, but it will not just be another series — the very future of the 50-over format will be at stake.

If the recent Champions Trophy in South Africa was an indication, things do not look too bright for ODIs. Struggling to cope with the T20 onslaught, they seem to be losing popularity among younger viewers.

The upcoming series between the world champions and the country that generates a major share of the game’s revenue may indicate what lies ahead.

The marketing men think ODIs are safe, at least in India.

“We’ve data to show that whenever India plays at home against quality teams, the interest is always high,” said Abhishek Verma, head of marketing and communications, Neo Sports, the company that holds the TV rights for all cricket played in India. “So it’s a wrong assumption that interest in one-day cricket is fading. Even in the Champions Trophy, India’s matches against Pakistan and Australia got good viewership.”

But then those were just two matches in a 15-match competition. As a whole, the tournament was not a success with Indian viewers.

The India-Australia series will begin on a good note though. Demand for the about 20,000 tickets for the first ODI — in Vadodara on Sunday — is high.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side will replace Australia as the world’s top ODI team if it wins the series 4-3 or better. But for the administrators, the real victory will be seeing full houses and soaring TRPs.