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'Generous' BCCI gives big CLT20 relief to STAR -
5/30/2015 9:21:53 AM

The BCCI has over the years acquired the reputation of a domineering big brother in dealing with its various partners, thanks to Team India's massive popularity at home and abroad. From broadcasters, to various sponsors, franchise owners, overseas telecast rights holders, online partners and more, they have all, at some point of time, complained that dealing with the Indian cricket board hasn't been easy .

That was until recently when Star TV , the present right holders for all cricket played in India and sponsors of the Indian national teams, did the impossible. In a show of rare bonhomie, Star has managed to convince the BCCI to waive off $475m that they were scheduled to pay for the remaining four years of Champions League T20 event under the 10-year deal signed between BCCI and the ESPN-Star JV in 2009. In turn, Star will pay the BCCI, Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia ­ the three boards which host the tournament -a collective compensatory figure of $300m to exit the tournament.

ESPN-Star had bought the Champions League rights for a period of 10 years starting 2009 for a huge $975m after losing out on the Indian Premier League (IPL) rights that had been offered to MSM India in 2007-08. Six editions of the tournament have been played so far and four remain, including the 2015 season.

Sources say the understanding between BCCI and Star to close the deal took place when N Srinivasan -the present International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman -was at the helm of affairs in BCCI. The announcement has been delayed only because financial parameters had to be worked out.

The deal will help Star save on an estimated $90m per season that they had to shell out (four seasons remained) as part of the tripartite agreement between them and the three cricket boards for a property that clearly had few takers. Giving BCCI's penny-pinching ways of conducting business, only the board's bigwigs can explain why they decided to act on the misery afflicting their biggest business partner. "They've rarely shown such a generous side," said a source.

Star TV holds the Indian telecast rights, the national team's sponsorship rights, the online media rights and the ground and title rights for the cricket played in India. Their partners in UK, Sky TV , hold the IPL's international telecast rights. It seems, this has prompted the board to bail them out of the CLT20 mess.

Now with Star guaranteed to bleed less, they'll have to wait and see what the board has in store for them when they unveil plans for the Twenty20 league in the UAE. Not a single IPL franchise has been told about the plans which are being set in motion but what is certain is that the tournament in UAE will not be another version of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Sources say the initial idea of the BCCI was to involve the top four teams of the IPL ­ just like it used to be the case in CLT20. However, with Cricket South Africa restructuring its own Twenty20 circuit which will be scheduled somewhere around the same time, the new league's modalities will need time to get worked out.

"In another week, there should be a better idea of what to expect," said the source close to developments.

IPL has given me great confidence: Sarfaraz -
5/30/2015 9:21:20 AM

Sarfaraz credited Virat Kohli for backing him to play his natural game

Sarfaraz Naushad Khan, who shot to fame in the eighth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), credited IPL for his new-found confidence and despite the instant stardom, vowed to stay grounded. 17-year old Sarfaraz became the youngest player to feature in an IPL game and shot to fame with a sprightly 21-ball 45 against Rajasthan Royals in a rain-interrupted league match.

Sarfaraz said that batting behind the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) line-up was a huge honour for him. "Batting at number six for RCB was an honour for me," Sarfaraz told PTI. "Usually senior and experienced players bat at that position and carry heavy pressure. I am lucky to get a chance to bat at that position. It gave me extreme confidence but my feet are on the ground, and will remain there."

The Mumbai-born Sarfaraz, who was picked up the Royal Challengers for INR 50 Lakhs, credited the senior pros in his side for giving him the confidence to express himself. "Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers gave me tips to improve my batting. Very soon, I will be bringing them into practice. Kohli, in particular, helped me a lot. He was more of a friend than mentor or captain," Sarfaraz opined.

When asked about the dream of playing for national side, Sarfaraz said, "It is hard to say how far that goal is but the way I am working, I am confident that I will get to play for the country in future."

Sarfaraz's father, Naushad Khan, said that the entire family is backing Sarfaraz to come good in cricket. "I have given Sarfaraz to cricket. Sarfaraz's mother gets up at half past four in the morning and cooks food for us. We leave our house at five o'clock and start practice from seven o'clock. We come back home at 8 PM and after having dinner we fall asleep at nine o'clock. This routine has continued for many years."

Debutant Ronchi stars in NZ revival on Day 1 -
5/30/2015 9:19:54 AM

Ronchi missed out on surpassing Shikhar Dhawan's record of scoring
the fastest ton on Test debut.

Luke Ronchi marked his Test debut with a quickfire 88 as New Zealand fought back on the first day at Headingley on Friday after James Anderson became the first England bowler to take 400 Test wickets. New Zealand, after being sent into bat by England captain Alastair Cook following a washed-out morning session, slumped to two for two. But a sixth-wicket stand of 120 between opener Tom Latham, dropped four times on his way to 84, and the dashing Ronchi helped New Zealand recover to 297 for eight at stumps.

New Zealand, in a fixture they had to win to square the two-match series at 1-1 after England's 124-run victory in the first Test at Lord's on Monday, were quickly in trouble. Anderson struck twice in three balls to reduce them to two for two after England captain Alastair Cook won the toss following a washed-out first session. The 32-year-old paceman removed both opener Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson for ducks.

Anderson started this match, his 104th Test, with 399 Test wickets. And the Lancashire swing bowler needed just eight balls Friday to become just the 12th bowler overall to take 400 Test wickets, reaching the landmark with a classic delivery that took Guptill's outside edge and was well caught, above his head, by second slip Ian Bell, who dropped a couple of chances at Lord's. No sooner had Anderson struck than rain forced a 10-minute stoppage.

But when play resumed, Anderson quickly had his 401st Test wicket. Williamson, who scored a century at Lord's, fell second ball Friday when edging Anderson to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler. Ross Taylor (20) played no stroke to a Stuart Broad delivery that cut back and was lbw. But undaunted New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum drove his first ball, from Broad, high over cover for six.Latham had made fifty when a Ben Stokes delivery caught the shoulder of his bat. A leaping Joe Root at gully got fingertips to the ball but couldn't hold on. McCullum (41) was out to the first ball after tea when he drove Stokes straight to Mark Wood at mid-off.

Ronchi, New Zealand's wicket-keeper during their run to this year's Wold Cup final and a former Australia limited overs international, having grown up in Perth, came in at 144 for five. The 34-year-old, brought in because BJ Watling's knee injury prevented him keeping at Headingley, showed few nerves as he raced to fifty off just 37 balls, including eight fours and two sixes. He gloved Wood over the slips first ball for a streaky four. But from then on he was increasingly assured, driving Moeen Ali for six before sweeping the off-spinner high over the rope for his fifty.

Ali, however, almost broke the sixth-wicket stand when Latham, on 71, missed a sweep only for the lbw review to go against England. There was more bad luck for Ali when he had the sweeping Latham, on 72, dropped twice in two balls by Wood at square leg and Gary Ballance at leg-slip. And Latham was dropped for the third time in six balls faced when, on 76, he edged Broad only for a diving Cook at first slip to floor the two-handed chance.

Latham's luck ran out when he was caught at first slip by Root off Broad. There was no hundred either for Ronchi, who had been on course to surpass India star Shikhar Dhawan's 85-ball record for the quickest century by a Test debutant, set against Australia in Mohail in 2013. But his 70-ball knock, including 13 fours and three sixes, ended when Broad, from around the wicket, had him hooking straight to Anderson at fine leg.

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