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New hue for Men in Blue

The Indian cricket team has a new practice gear. It?s hi-tech to boost performance and snazzier for effect.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 02:18 IST

The Indian cricket team just got branded after Nike won the team’s kit sponsorship deal for a whopping sum of Rs 196.66 crore. Nike was quick to supply a new hue of blue (for practice gear only) for the Men in Blue, just in time for the forthcoming ODI series against Pakistan. The cricketers sporting a new, vibrant dark blue at practice has set fans thinking if the team will sport the new colour at the ODIs too.

Nike India’s apparel director Rajan Amba, however, dismisses the notion: “The jersey colours will remain the same for the ODIs because the team has to follow the ICC colour code, which is sky blue. But we wanted to change the practice gear colour of the team. They wanted a colour that doesn’t get stained easily. So we opted for a darker shade of blue.”

With this kit deal, a uniformity comes in the team’s dress code. Earlier, players used to sport logos and shoes of their individual sponsors. However, this deal doesn’t include the bats. With this kit deal, the Indian team has become the richest team in the world — the combined Sahara-Nike deal is worth US $ 27.12 million, US$ 4.4 million ahead of the nearest rival, Italian football giants Juventus.

And it’s not just about changing colours. Says Sanjay Gangopadhyay, marketing director, Nike India: “The fabric is a performance-oriented one called Dri-Fit. It’s a boon for sportsmen as they sweat more. The fabric absorbs sweat away so that players stay dry and comfortable.” Definitely a boon for someone like captain Rahul Dravid, who tends to sweat a lot while playing.

Indian cricket sure enters its hi-tech age. If performance is directly proportional to practice, look like our cricketers at least have the right gear to begin with.

That’s the good part. However, the new hues could land some of our stars in a spot. For, this sponsorship deal will affect players who have signed up with rival brands like Adidas and Reebok — they now can’t sport gear with logos of these brands on the field. BCCI sources say players can honour commitments to individual sponsors only off the field.

Several Indian cricketers have signed such deals, including Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh.

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 02:18 IST