ESPN-Star to telecast Afro-Asia Cup

The Afro-Asia Cup will be shown on ESPN-Star after Nimbus Sports, which owned the telecast rights for the tournament, backed out of the deal, the Asian Cricket Council has confirmed.

"The circumstances were such that the tournament could not be cancelled, considering that the matches were designated as official one-dayers, and we're happy that ESPN-Star have agreed to telecast the event," Syed Ashraful Haq, the chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council, told Cricinfo.

While ESPN-Star weren't willing to reveal financial details, it is understood the deal will be significantly lower than the original sum.

Nimbus Sports, which bought the rights for three editions of the tournament, first played in 2005 in South Africa, for $12 million, cited the absence of several big stars in the Asian XI as the reason for pulling the plug. Among the names missing are Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Akhtar and Lasith Malinga.

"We will not be part of the event in any way," Harish Thawani, the Nimbus chief, told PTI. "We will not be telecasting the event. Neither will we be producing nor bringing sponsorship for the matches."

It is understood that Nimbus' decision had been prompted by the withdrawal of several top stars, as the commitment had been based on the understanding that the teams will be drawn from the best available talent.

Muralitharan, Vaas and Sangakkara are currently playing county cricket with permission from the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, and Akhtar was pulled out by the Pakistan Cricket Board on the grounds that he had not regained full fitness. The last straw, according to the source, was the voluntary withdrawal of Tendulkar a couple of days ago. Dravid had not been originally picked in the XI that will be captained by Mahela Jayawardene.