As India and Australia engage in the five-match ODI and three T-20 international series, an intense battle for supremacy will also be on among the national news channels.
Aajtak is spending big time to ensure the strongest panel of experts for live content and live up to its reputation. India TV is playing around the Virender Sehwag factor, who with his flamboyant batting style, holds potential to turn the tables single-handedly by his witty analysis. India News is another serious contender, while other big names like ABP News and News 18 India are adopting a conservative approach.
Insidesport gets to its readers what they should look forward to for instant news during the India-Australia rivalry over the next one month.
AAJTAK – BIGGEST, BEST & COMPREHENSIVE
The tag of undisputed number one news channel, the best possible sports analysts panel for news broadcaster, the seasoned and well-read host, better reach over its rivals – numero uno Aajtak has it all to ensure its supremacy in sports programming and packaging.
The theme Aag se Aag Ladao (fight the fire with fire) lays bare the intense approach channel is going to have in its live shows.
With the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Michael Clarke, Mohammad Azharuddin, Madan Lal and Nikhil Chopra on board, Aajtak has indicated that there won’t be any compromise on its aggressive approach with cricket.
“When people talks about India-Australia (cricket), we have the most relevant people to discuss the rivalry,” says the TV Today Group Sport Editor Vikrant Gupta. “Sourav was one captain who plotted Australia’s downfall. Harbhajan was one bowler who sent shivers down Kangaroos spine. Clarke technically has been the captain to win the World Cup for Australia last time. Then Azhar, Madan Lal and Nikhil are always considered with their experience and frank, unbiased opinions as one of the best voices in Indian cricket.
“The idea is to spread the joy of the most competitive players performance on the field,” adds Gupta. “Post-match show are one slots where the cricket lovers come to us in the biggest numbers. We are committed that they get the best from free and frank opinions of our elite panel, who have no restrictions whatsoever to speak out their mind.”
Gupta, who has been honoured by the Councils of Indians in Australia, for his contribution to sports, also enjoys a strong fan base. Aajtaak has been giving its sports editor a free hand to experiment with cricket programming. Gupta with his ex-tempore show Cricket Adda has been capturing common man’s sentiment by getting his channel colleagues to speak about cricket. Having played the sport at a certain level, and followed it intensely as a hard-core pro gives him an advantage as a presenter.
INDIA TV – ONE-MAN SHOW
India TV will be going out with a one-man show strategy with their big signing Virendra Sehwag. The channel denies to reveal the deal, but insidesport.co has reliably learnt that the former India opener is engaged for a year in a several crore rupees deal. Sehwag with his crude humour, understanding of the game and honest, unbiased approach brings to the table much more than those numbers in rupees.
VIRAT YUDH – playing on the Virat Kohli factor, while also establish the literary meaning, the BIG BATTLE. That’s for the on-field excitement. The channel is also building on its newsroom strength – Sehwag, who like his flamboyant batting has also carved a niche for himself in the commentary box with his no holds barred witty approach. India TV is marketing the witty side of Veeru in its campaigns titled Veeru Ke Bol.
“The series between India and Australia in itself is big enough for the cricket lovers to look for the best analysis. No doubt, we will be playing on the Sehwag sentiment, who like his batting has created a strong fan base for his humorous yet unbiased and critical analysis. His tweeter account is a testimony to his fan following and his cricketing knowledge is immense,” says Samip Rajguru, one of India’s leading sports news presenters and India TV Sports editor.
The channel has decided to take its programming beyond the confines of the news room. “We will be doing shows from most of the B towns where the series is played. We will be going to places like Indore and Guwahati to capture emotions of masses, who make cricket this big,” adds Rajguru, a former national level footballer himself with a strong passion for and understanding of sports.
Like Gupta from Aajtak, Rajguru enjoys a strong fan base and why not, the man has been for the longest on the floor among the sports presenters in news genre.
Yashpal Sharma, first Indian bowler to take an international hat-trick Chetan Sharma and show host Rajguru are the other big names. But the channel is relying and heavily on the Sehwag factor.
INDIA NEWS – GOING WITH SEASONED PROS
“An English-speaking guest does not fit into our scheme of things,” says the India news sports editor Rajeev Mishra. “We have two panelists who have played cricket at the top-level, been national selectors and follow the game minutely. Saba Karim was among the men to anoint Virat Kohli the India captain.
“Our USP is to report as it happens, when it happens and where it happens. We have already done some good shows with our panelists from Ground Zero on the Tiger-Kangaroo rivalry build up,” adds Mishra.
The channel has tried to establish an early lead with a show featuring India’s spin trio of Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Kohli’s coach and Dronacharya Awardee Rajkumar Sharma and former India all-rounder Reetinder Singh Sodhi complete the India news expert panel.
NO EXCITEMENT AT NEWS 18
News 18 India and CNN News 18 are playing it cold. No special programming, no big panels of experts and no dedicated shows. “See the present scenario, politics is taking precedence of over sports. Including cricket. Gone are the days of India-Australia intense rivalries. With the two nations playing so frequently, Aussie players seen more in India than at home for IPL and other corporate assignments we don’t see this series to produce anything extra ordinary. There are no more talking points than Virat vs Smith duel, which the duo themselves have been playing down,” says Vimal Kumar, the channel sports head.
ABP NEWS – NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT IT
ABP News, like News 18, is playing it safe for now. The channel will have dedicated shows on match days with its high-profile panelist Sandeep Patil, the former India batsman, ex-chief national selector and the coach who had propelled outsiders Kenya to the 2003 World Cup semi-finals.
The channel is open about intensifying the programming “if excitement builds up in the series and cricket takes precedence over other news, the channel will take a dynamic call,” says an ABP spokesperson.
The Thursdays will be interesting to watch out for each of these contenders report cards when BARC data is out. An intense battle for TRPs is on the cards between Aajtak and India TV, with India News being a serious contender for the top three race. However, Aajtak enjoys a clear edge on reach, reputation and rich panel. Upsets are never ruled out, though.