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ESPN-STAR saves Afro-Asia Cup

ESPN-STAR Sports were Thursday awarded the telecast rights of the second Afro-Asia Cup that starts in Bangalore June 6, after the original rights holder Nimbus pulled out.

The series comprises three One-day Internationals (ODIs) between Asia and Africa. Besides, two Twenty20 matches between the women's and men's teams of the two continents will be played June 5, a day before the Afro-Asia Cup begins.

Asian Cricket Council (ACC) CEO Syed Ashraful Huq announced the deal with ESPN-STAR Sports.

"We are extremely pleased to extend our relationship with ESPN-STAR Sports with the forthcoming edition of the Afro-Asia Cup," he said in a statement.

Said the ESPN and STAR Sports: "ACC, the apex body for management of cricket in Asia, today awarded the worldwide rights for telecasting the second edition of the Afro-Asia Cup to ESPN-STAR Sports.

"These rights include exclusive global television broadcast rights of the tournament in addition to title and on-ground rights. All other commercial rights are also included as part of this landmark deal along with the responsibility for television production of the matches as well."

Chennai will stage the second and third matches of the Afro-Asia Cup June 9 and 10.

The total prize-money on offer is $100,000. The winning team of each match will receive $25,000, the man of the match $5,000 and the man of the tournament $10,000. All participating players will be paid $5,000 for each match.

Nimbus pulled out of the deal with the ACC apparently because several star players like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble from India, Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas from Sri Lanka, Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar and South Africa captain Graeme Smith are missing from the two teams for different reasons.

"The rights for the Afro-Asia Cup were previously with Nimbus but due to Nimbus' non-fulfilment of contractual obligations that contract stands cancelled and ACC has now gone ahead and granted the rights to ESPN-STAR Sports," said ESPN and STAR Sports.

R.C. Venkateish, managing director of ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd., said the award of the rights is a vindication of the channels' commitment to the highest standards of television experience.

"Our distribution strength will ensure that cricket fans across India and abroad will be able to enjoy the telecast of this grand cricketing spectacle," he said.

"Our telecast of the Afro-Asia Cup 2007 will include world-class graphics, special interviews, reports and the star-studded ESPN STAR Sports commentary team 'A Few Good Men', who will be back in action," Venkateish said of the commentary team comprising Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle among others.

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