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Is BCCI out to neutralise Subhash Chandra by cancelling India’s tour of Zimbabwe?

MUMBAI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has called off India’s tour of Zimbabwe, leading to the speculation that cricket’s richest governing body is out to neutralise any move that Essel Group chairperson Subhash Chandra may make towards floating a rebel league.

A cloud of uncertainty has also gathered over the proposed bilateral series between India and Pakistan, possibly for the same reason.

ZEEL-owned Ten Sports has the broadcast rights to international cricket in Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Though player fatigue is said to be the reason for calling off the Zimbabwe tour, speculation is doing the rounds that the cancellation is due to broadcast rights. India has just lost a One-Day International (ODI) series to Bangladesh.

The BCCI is reportedly unhappy that the series will be telecast on Ten Sports, whose promoter Chandra is supposedly planning a rebel league.

India-vs-Zimbabwe-coverIndia and Zimbabwe were to engage in three ODIs and two Twenty20 matches from 10 July.

Earlier, Zimbabwe Cricket had issued a statement saying that it was in constant contact with both the BCCI and Ten Sports to resolve the issues before the series.

“There have been reports that an issue over Zimbabwe Cricket’s broadcasting partner is threatening the forthcoming India tour to Zimbabwe. The position is that ZC is in constant contact with both the BCCI and Ten Sports, over issues which should be resolved before the tour,” Zimbabwe Cricket chair Wilson Manase said in a statement.

He also stated that the tour might be postponed if the issue remained unresolved. “If the matters take too long to resolve, ZC and the BCCI might mutually agree to push the tour to the next year,” Manase added.

Additionally, Manase and Zimbabwe Cricket CEO Wilfred Mukondiwa would discuss the issues with their BCCI counterparts on the sidelines of the ICC Annual Conference in Barbados from 22 to 26 June.

Manase also said that Zimbabwe Cricket was yet to approach the local immigration authorities for the facilitation of visas because the memorandum of understanding of the tour was still being worked out. He added, however, that visa would not be an issue considering cricket is the country’s national sport.

“Cricket is a national sport and ZC enjoys a cordial relationship with all relevant government offices so the acquisition of visas is not an issue. The substantive issues are what we will discuss in Barbados,” Manase said.

Apparently, Chandra’s plan to set up a rebel league has irked the BCCI to no end. In order to get back at Chandra, the BCCI is resorting to cancelling tours with cricket boards that have a partnership with Ten Sports.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was the first board to be at the receiving end of the BCCI’s tough stance against Chandra. The BCCI told the PCB that the proposed tour of Pakistan in December–January in the UAE would not happen if the series were broadcast on Ten Sports.

Like PCB chair Shahryar Khan, Zimbabwe Cricket also expressed helplessness in the matter. Zimbabwe Cricket’s broadcast rights agreement with Ten Sports are valid till 2019.