When private television players came into cricket coverage, the game entered even the kitchen. Now the latest initiative by ESPN Star Sports to introduce Hindi commentary has taken the rural India by storm.

To make a greater impact on the masses. the channel has assembled a dream team consisting of legends of the games such as Kapil Dev, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sourav Ganguly, Wasim Akram, Ramiz Raza and Arun Lal to cover the ongoing India-England Test series. The commentary team has been a massive hit.

Aloke Malik, MD, ESPN Software India, says Hindi presentation has been accepted very positively. “Our initial research indicates that we are on the right track. As much as 85 per cent viewers prefer the commentary in Hindi,’’ he explains. With such a panel it is obvious that the viewership will be impacted.

A clip of a few countrymen’s reaction to Hindi commentary, screened at the gathering, gave a clear mandate to the move. After all the most commonly used National language has come as a great boon to the rural masses in the Hindi heartland.

The 1983 World Cup winning Indian captain, Kapil Dev, says, “Cricket has come closer to the Indians. The latest move of the channel will make a greater impact in the lives of the people in village in those region,’’ reasons the legend.

For Arun Lal, who opened the batting with the great Sunil Gavaskar, it was great pride to do commentary in Hindi. The most telling comment came from one of India’s most successful captains, Sourav Ganguly.

For him the reach of Hindi commentary deep into the heart of India will help unearth fast bowlers from the rustic population.

The five – Akram was not present – who shared the dias with great élan are unanimous in India’s winning mantra in the ongoing Test. With the series poised 1-1, all say the Indian team will have to play to its strength to win the next two Tests. They are unanimous that it is not the right time to retire Sachin Tendulkar.

Here is the cue for the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the National selectors on the future of the game in the country.

sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 4, 2012)
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