The Indian Cricket Board has reported that it will earn 58% more per match over the next four years after tying up a new sponsorship deal. Paytm has decided to extend its commercial partnership until 2023 and it will pay 3.27 billion rupees (R690 million) for the privilege of doing so.
That equates to 38 million rupees per match and the cricket board pledged to use the cash injection to fund a concerted push for future glory. It shows that cricket’s popularity is undiminished in India despite their shock World Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of New Zealand.
India are currently taking part in a two-Test series against the West Indies and that provides Virat Kohli’s men with ample opportunity to return the feel-good factor to proceedings. The top betting websites make them heavy favourites to secure victory in the series, with Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah expected to lead the charge. That is understandable, as India have enjoyed a strong period of dominance over the Windies lately. They swept the T20 series 3-0 and the ODI contest 2-0, so they were surging with confidence as they approached their first Test match since their historic series victory over Australia at the beginning of 2019.
The West Indies have struggled since a strong showing against England in a Test and ODI series earlier this year. Richard Pybus was axed in controversial fashion and the World Cup campaign was disappointing, leaving Jason Holder’s men with plenty of problems. It is therefore difficult to see them claiming a first victory in 17 years against a well-drilled India side that is bursting with experience and world-class talent.
India deservedly sits top of the ICC World Test Rankings chart, although New Zealand and South Africa are knocking on the door. They are also second in the ODI rankings, so the game does still look healthy in India, despite fans’ disappointment at their failure to bring the World Cup home. “We are excited to continue our long-term association with BCCI and the Indian cricket team,” said Paytm chief executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma. “Our commitment to Indian cricket gets stronger with every season. India loves cricket and we at Paytm are the biggest fans of it.”
Cricketers are treated like rock stars in the world’s second-most populous nation, so it is easy to see why the firm, owned by One 97 Communications, is keen to sponsor the team. South Africa’s players will be thrust into the deep end next month when they head to the subcontinent to take on India in a best-of-three T20 series, with Quinton de Kock leading the charge. South Africa are above India in the T20 world rankings and they might fancy their chances of pulling off an upset in that series. They struggled for consistency at the World Cup, but this affords the team a great opportunity to restore some confidence in their white-ball prowess.
Then South Africa and India will lock horns in a best-of-three Test series beginning on October 2 in Visakhapatnam and ending three weeks later in Ranchi. Faf du Plessis’ men could end up as the world’s number one team by the end of the year, as they take on England at home after Christmas. Their last outing ended in disaster as they slumped to a shock defeat against, but it is now time to rebuild for the future. Anrich Nortje, Rudi Second and Senuran Muthusamy are all set to make their Test debuts, as is replacement wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen, while du Plessis should be well rested as he will miss the T20 series, so it promises to be a fascinating showdown.