As Sri Lanka take to the field for the second one-dayer today, they are not just up against an invincible rival. The hosts are faced with bigger heat from its own fans and sponsors who have committed millions of dollars to Cricket Sri Lanka. The investment will be doing the brand more harm than the benefit they would have expected from association with their national cricket team.
Sri Lankan fans have been losing their patience with the national team, especially after the team lost the Test series 3-0 and showed little signs of improvement in the limited-overs contest. Around 50 fans shouted slogans and booed the local players forcing security personnel to step in. The players were held up for about 30 minutes. The scenario, which is a great gain for India, has become the most worrying factor for Sri Lanka Cricket.
The home team, in their landmark 800th one-day international is faced with the daunting task of erasing many a frustrating memories for their fans and corporate associates.
Title sponsor Dialog Axiata is gravely concerned about the adverse influence of team’s repeated failures. According to sources in the Sri Lankan cricket board, sponsors have expressed their anguish with the sales and marketing team. When cricket lovers are hurt, they are protesting against the team, they will be up against anything and everything associated with the team. This is one simple philosophy that is causing ripples.
Here is one example, how even a prospect of negative influence can rattle a brand. Stunning losses, to which Sri Lankans have been subjected to by Virat Kohli’s men, leave an adverse effect on the brands associated with the team. “The negative sentiment is the biggest fear for a brand investing on sports icons or teams,” a brand which has Virat Kohli as a brand ambassador said. “There are no complains with Team India or the face of our brand. Still, we use utmost caution around our campaigns.”
“We had planned a massive campaign around India’s great showing at the ICC Champions Trophy. There were big plans with the skipper, the face of our brand. But one defeat to Pakistan brought it all to a standstill. We strategically withdrew even our regular campaigns with the skipper to avoid any adverse impact from negative sentiment.”
Huawei, too, is not very happy about its investment for the leading arm of the Sri Lanka team jersey.
The home team now is looking up to veteran seamer Lasith Malinga, to lift the morale. “Malinga is a leader in the change room. We don’t look purely at what he can do with the ball, but also look at what he does for the young bowlers, and we have got a young mob of them. Stats may show that he hasn’t performed like the Lasith of three years ago, but what he does add in value is immeasurable. His stats would also look different if we held the catches off his bowling,” says interim coach Nic Pothas.
For India, it’s time to experiment and entertain. In-form Shikhar Dhawan has slammed 757 at almost run a ball, with an average of 84.11 in his 10 limited overs games against the hosts.