India news February 10, 2012

Nimbus claims $121m damages from BCCI

Nimbus Communications, whose contract holding television rights to cricket in India was terminated in December, has claimed damages of close to Rs 600 crores (approx. $121 million) from the BCCI in the arbitration process currently under way, ESPNcricinfo has learned. Nimbus' claim rests mainly on two contentions: that the Indian team rested top players, contrary to the contract, and that there was no India-Pakistan series as stipulated.

Nimbus had secured the rights to Indian cricket for four years in January 2010, its second consecutive four-year deal with the Indian board. The agreement was valued at approximately Rs 2000 crore (then $436 million) for a minimum of 64 international matches and 312 days of domestic cricket until 2014.

The deal was terminated after the BCCI claimed Nimbus had defaulted on payments and the matter then went into arbitration.

Central to the claim about the playing XI are two of India's last three home ODI series - against New Zealand in 2010 and against West Indies in 2011. MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh did not take part in the five-game series against New Zealand, having flown out to South Africa early in order to acclimatise themselves to the conditions there for the forthcoming tour. Suresh Raina and Zaheer Khan only played two of the five games before following their team-mates overseas.

Neither Dhoni nor Tendulkar took part in the series against West Indies last year, while Virender Sehwag did not play the final game after scoring a double-century in the fourth ODI. The board has adopted a policy of resting players that request a break for certain series, while Tendulkar has opted not to play one-dayers on a regular basis.

The India v Pakistan series was part of the ICC's Future Tours Program and was theoretically scheduled to take place in March-April 2012. However, a bilateral series has been off the cards since the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 and in any case the calendar at that time is crowded with the Asia Cup and the IPL following the triangular series in Australia. Pakistan last toured India in 2007-08, with the home side winning the Test series 1-0 and the ODI series 3-2. Pakistan players did take part in the inaugural IPL in 2008, but have not been part of the tournament since.

The BCCI has already claimed that Nimbus owes it Rs 305 crores (approx. US$61 million) in unpaid dues. In January, the Bombay High Court gave Nimbus four weeks to either deposit the amount with the court as security or provide the court with a bank guarantee for the amount.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo