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Cricket crown & race

Sept. 12: Cricketing action kicked off the pitch a week before Sourav's boys next stride onto it with Jagmohan Dalmiya being crowned BCCI patron-in-chief and Zee preparing for a crucial board meeting tomorrow on telecast rights.

Dalmiya is the first patron-in-chief of the cricket board in its 75-year history and has been appointed within the ambit of its constitution. He will take office from October 1 for three years after stepping down as BCCI president this month-end.

The appointment comes a day before a Bhopal court is due to hear a petition contending that it is 'morally incorrect' for the BCCI president to propose his own name for patron-in-chief. On Friday, the court had asked the BCCI to refrain from taking any decision outside its constitution.

Although there was initial uncertainty over what the BCCI would do ' the court notice on Jogesh Khattar's petition was handed over today ' it went ahead with its meeting after consulting legal opinion. A 20-minute discussion was held with Arun Jaitley, Sudhir Nanavati, Shashank Manohar and Ranbir Singh Mahendra to analyse the court order.

BCCI senior vice-president Komal Morarka said a resolution vesting Dalmiya with powers to liaise with the International Cricket Council would be passed at the board's annual general meeting in Calcutta on September 29.

The cricket board rules provided for the post of patron-in-chief ' though it had never been filled up before ' and Dalmiya was elected unanimously, Morarka said. But he would take charge only in October to avoid legal wrangles over dual posts.

After Dalmiya's appointment, the marketing committee of the BCCI met to take stock of the telecast rights controversy. ESPN-STAR Sports had challenged in court the board's decision to offer Zee Network the rights for the next four years though both had bid the same amount.

Bombay High Court had suggested that if both parties were agreeable, they could submit fresh sealed bids to the court this Wednesday. Alternatively, Zee could fight the case on its merits.

Zee officials today remained tight-lipped on what course the network would take. Zee has been asked to inform the BCCI and its rival of its decision by Tuesday evening. But the issue is likely to be clinched at the board meeting tomorrow.

'Zee had to raise its best offer significantly to match ESPN-STAR Sports' revised bid of $308 million. It looks unlikely it will take it up much higher,' an analyst said.

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