ESPN rescues Afro-Asia Cup despite absense of Sri Lankan and Indian stars

NEW DELHI, May 31, 2007 (AFP) – The Afro-Asia series in India will go ahead as scheduled next week after the ESPN-Star network stepped in to save the beleaguered event, the Asian Cricket Council said on Thursday. “The series cannot be held if there is no television coverage,” said Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah. The series, featuring three one-dayers and a Twenty20 match between Asia and Africa from June 5-10, was in jeopardy after the original rights holder pulled out citing lack of public interest.

But ACC chief executive Ashraful Haq told the Cricinfo website that the pan-Asian ESPN-Star network had agreed to telecast the series for an undisclosed fee.

“The circumstances were such that the tournament could not be cancelled, considering that the matches were designated as official one-dayers,” the Kuala Lumpur-based Haq was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.

“We’re happy that ESPN-Star have agreed to telecast the event.”

While ESPN-Star was not willing to reveal the financial details, Cricinfo said “it is understood the deal will be significantly lower than the original sum.”

The series begins with a Twenty20 match on June 5 in Bangalore, which will also host the first one-daye