New Delhi: Nearly half the Indian cricket team has been left in the lurch without a bat advertiser, as the world’s largest sportswear firm Nike has pulled out of sponsorship for them.
It has been learnt that the Oregon-based sportswear firm has not renewed contracts with Indian cricketers such as Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Most of its other bat assets — including Manish Pandey, Axar Patel and Umesh Yadav — were seen using plain bats during the ODI series against New Zealand. The bat of Kedar Jadhav, another Nike protege, was sporting the manufacturer’s label.
Sponsoring cricket bats is an expensive marketing exercise in India.
Companies cough up Rs 7-10 crore per year to put their logos on willows of top players, such as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. And, Nike India has been struggling with losses that have accumulated to over Rs 500 crore in 2014-15.
A Nike India spokesperson did not reply to an e-mailed questionnaire sent by TOI, while sources in the cricket equipment manufacturing fraternity said it has been around two years since any of the top bat makers in Meerut have got orders from Nike for new bats.
While Nike remains one of the biggest spenders in cricket, paying around Rs 60 crore a year to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to sponsor the Indian cricket team’s official kit, it has shut around 30% of its stores in the country to cut cost.