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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 08:30 GMT
India fans left in the dark
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC, Delhi

Aggrieved kiosk owner in Delhi, Kumar
Aggrieved kiosk owner in Delhi, Kumar

When India star Virender Sehwag hit his blistering double-century in the first Test against Pakistan in Lahore, many back home were oblivious.

Rajesh Kumar, a roadside kiosk owner in Delhi, was one of many who felt the excitement a bit late. A friend of his came from nearby to update him with the score.

Kumar, a regular listener of cricket on the radio, does not have the luxury of cable television, mobile alerts or desktop pop-ups in his shop - and as a result, he is currently missing out.

"I am missing the excitement of listening to live commentary on radio. The India-Pakistan series is always a big affair but providing a few match updates during the day is just not enough," says Kumar.

The government-owned station, All India Radio, is not able to provide live broadcast of the ongoing India-Pakistan series after negotiations with the global radio rights holder, ARY Digital, failed to yield any positive results.

Mahesh, a food vendor, was also aggrieved.

Mahesh, Delhi food vendor
Cable television is not available in many rural areas
Dehi vendor Mahesh

"I could not believe when the game started without us," he says. "I love the game and the government should make it sure that common people like us should not miss out on the excitement."

The matches are also shown on cable television but that is not something shop owners, taxi drivers and office-goers can rely on very frequently.

"Nearby shop owners used to often assemble near my shop to listen to live commentary during the 2004 India-Pakistan series. But all that is no more there now," says Mahesh.

"Television cannot match the excitement when you hear cricket commentary on radio. Also, cable television is not available in many rural areas in the country."

Some experts say the commercialisation of the game is depriving people like Kumar and Mahesh of the excitement of a cricket match.

But television and radio commentator Harsha Bhogle says the popularity of the game will not be dampened without live broadcast of one series.

"The game will not move forward without commercialisation," he insisted.

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