Ranveer Singh, MS Dhoni most recalled brand ambassadors in IPL 2021: Study

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Actor and cricketer were the most recalled brand ambassadors in advertising targeted at audience, said a survey by the Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB) on Tuesday.

Ranveer and Dhoni appeared to have done equally well in the annual IPL ad recall research conducted ten days after the start of the cricketing league this year. The survey polled 879 respondents aged 18 to 35 in telephonic interviews.

Dream 11 was the “most spontaneously recalled brand” in this year’s survey, enhancing both the brand-equity and recall of Dhoni, its ambassador. Jio Fiber, which advertises with multiple IPL teams, featured Ranveer dancing to a sing-song brand message. He came in second on recall in the research, also helping him strengthen his image for endorsements. Byju’s was the most spontaneously recalled brand on the IPL last year, but its celebrity endorser Shah Rukh Khan trailed behind other celebrities.

Actor Salman Khan also did well in terms of brand recall, leading Rishabh Pant, Rahul Dravid, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Saurav Ganguly who followed in that sequence. Ajay Devgn, Sachin Tendulkar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shah Rukh Khan, Boman Irani, Kareena Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Ayushmann Khurrana and Akshay Kumar, on the other hand, had very few mentions and scored very poorly on respondent recall. In the last survey conducted in October 2020, MS Dhonihad the highest spontaneous recall as a celebrity endorser.

“ and had a disproportionate share of visibility and recall in the IPL research we just conducted. This was in synch with the ultra-high recall of the brands they respectively endorse”, said Dr. Sandeep Goyal, Chief Mentor of IIHB. “It is interesting nevertheless to note that brands without celebrities like Phone Pe, Byju’s and others too have done well wherever media investments are heavy,” he said.

Shikhar Dhawan gives a grand start to Delhi Capitals in IPL 14

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Shikhar Dhawan is in the illustrious group of batsmen who have become masters of the white-ball cricket. He has made eyes pop out, flaying the bowlers of all variety and deployed the blade to hit stunning and innovative shots. Especially so in the form of the game and in a popular tournament with an acronym IPL, which has received a groundswell of support from the regular fans and has appealed to the unacquainted some twelve years ago. The IPL began in 2008.

Such has been the terrific impact of the Twenty20; thanks to buccaneering batsman like Dhawan, who has carved his own niche and holds a pride of place among the Twenty20 and IPL icons like Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, David Warner and Rohit Sharma who have breached the 5000-run mark in the league, and other achievers with the bat like A.B. de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Robin Uthappa who are in the cusp of the coveted big aggregate. A couple of good seasons, and they will join the echelons, if not already.

True to his approach and style of play, Dhawan took the centre stage in a jiffy, opening for Delhi Capitals (DC) against three-time champions, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the VIVO-IPL-14 second match at the Wankhede Stadium last Saturday (April 10).

The pitch was fresh and a featherbed, but the last year’s finalist, taking the field without its nominated captain and swashbuckling batsman, Shreyas Iyer, was set an asking rate of 9.45 an over under the lights. The Capitals faced an uphill task, but Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw outsmarted the CSK bowling, short on pace, and made short work of the stiff target of 189 runs to win.

Dhawan is accustomed to lash out, and has a strike rate of 7.5 an over in the league, which is considerably lower than his partner, Shaw’s strike rate of 8.5 plus in the league. Against CSK, Dhawan lifted his strike rate to a high of 9.45, significantly less in comparison to Shaw’s strike rate that ended at 11.37 an over. The joint high strike-rate though, achieved as an outcome of the brutal hitting by the left-right combination, eventually paved the way for the Capitals to surpass the target with eight balls to spare.

Shikhar Dhawan playing against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in 2nd match of Indian Premier League 2021 | Photo: PTI

On the face of it, Dhawan’s 42nd half-century in the league appeared to be carrying on from the ominous form he was in, in the off-shore IPL last year in the Emirates. Dhawan had made 618 at 44.14 in 17 matches; his best so far in 14 seasons of the league.

He has begun the new season with a well calculated 85 off 54 balls with 10 hits to the fence and two over the line. He showed a full range of shots, but what caught the attention of the fans, teammates, and opponents alike was his courage and ability to employ the horizontal bat sweep shots off the medium-pacers.

After the Capitals’ made a winning start against CSK, Dhawan said he practices the shot in the net sessions. “Without practicing, I don’t bring a shot into a match. I have to play shots according to the fielding positions set by the opponent. I was happy Rishabh (Pant) won the toss. It was a sticky pitch and good to bat second. Not only my performance was good, the team also won. I am very happy with the outcome of the first match.”

Now conscientiously focused on the two short forms of the game, Dhawan has been extremely consistent even before making the move from the Hyderabad franchise (Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers) for which he turned out for 113 of the 177 league matches. His aggregates in the last five seasons in the league has been: 501 in 2016, 479 in 2017, 497 in 2018, 521 in 2019 and 618 in 2020. His two centuries, both came about last year in the Gulf.

Dhawan revealed there is only one way to play Twenty20 and that’s going after the ball. “There is no change in my approach. I have been playing like this for a long time. I have been scoring runs with a good strike rate. I have been consistent and always look to improve wherever I can. I am happy, I am enjoying my game. “

Elaborating further he said: “I have been playing like this for three years. I just keep on refining my skill set; that’s the mindset I have. That I am aggressive is visible now. I am sure you are going to see me like this only. This version of the game demands that (style of play) and I am sure I am going to play like that. “

Dhawan is 35 and at the crossroads of his chequered career. He is keen to impress the selectors and reinforce faith in India captain Virat Kohli that he would be useful for the men in blue team for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup to be held in India in October-November this year.

After England speedster Mark Wood beat him for pace in the first Twenty20 international at the Narendra Modi Stadium on March 12, 2021, Kohli did not consider the left-hander again for the rest of the five match series. Dhawan has scored a 36-ball 58 in the second Twenty20 match against Australia at Sydney last December. Kohli has gone on record saying that Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul have better credentials to open for India, but he chose to open with Sharma, after Rahul came a cropper in four matches.

The odds, it appears, are against Dhawan to win a place in the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Cup, but he is a left-hander and a repeat of last year’s form in the ongoing IPL would keep him in the basket for the selectors to pick from. Dhawan’s record in 65 Twenty20 Internationals is far from impressive at 27.88, but in such a short format, form matters a lot, and it would be interesting to see where the likes of Dhawan, Shaw and Rahul end up in IPL Season 14 that has already seen a robust start.

Dhawan has come into the IPL with a string of good scores in the three-match one-day series against England played in Pune. He scored 98, 4, and 67 and won the man of the match award in the first ODI.

There is still some way to go for the next ICC (50-over) Cricket World Cup (2023) and a few more contenders would come into play. But with 5,977 runs from 142 ODIs and with an average of 45-plus, Dhawan, should he remain fit, could be a front runner to open the innings with Sharma. But as of now, his primary aim would be to excel in the IPL and stake his claim in the Indian team for the Twenty World Cup. The fearless Delhi Capitals left hander has the wherewithal to have another successful IPL season.

Any takers for a brave new world of cricket with IoT and AI?

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Zing bails that light up when the ball disturbs the stumps. Hot Spot and Snickometer that tell the third umpire if a batsman has edged the ball. A pitch map to show where the ball has landed. Hawkeye’s ball tracking for DRS (decision review system) or to show viewers how much bounce or movement a bowler is getting. Multiple cameras, including a ‘spider cam’, to decide on close line calls or to dissect a batsman’s technique or a bowler’s action. Stump mikes that catch Australian captain Tim Paine’s sledging and Indian all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin’s cool riposte.

Tech has crept up on cricket, despite the reluctance of administrators to make changes. It has enhanced our enjoyment of the game manifold. Gone are the days when umpires used to blatantly favour the home side.

Apart from umpiring, it has made the viewing richer. The speed gun tells you how Jasprit Bumrah measures up against Pat Cummins.

Tech also helps players improve their performance. Ball-throwing machines have made it possible to have long practice sessions without net bowlers. Analytics tell players what’s working and what isn’t or spot chinks in the opposition armoury to lay traps.

Crunching data

Most of the tech inputs come from sophisticated cameras and computer vision technology. The rest is from analytics based on video and scoresheet data from past performances in various conditions.

Not surprisingly, new technologies like IoT (internet of things) and AI (artificial intelligence) are the next things to arrive. They are already in evidence in other sports like baseball and golf.

TrackMan, priced at nearly $20,000, uses a dual radar system to capture everything in a golf club’s swing, impact and the ball’s flight. Blast Motion has a more modest price tag of $150 for its device using a combination of IoT sensors and video to analyze the bat swing in baseball.

Cricket has taken the cue. Bengaluru startup StanceBeam has an IoT device out on the market that can be fitted on top of the handle to capture the speed and angle of the bat at the point of impact with the ball. Max speed at impact would indicate a powerful shot.

Another startup in the tech city—Spektacom, founded by erstwhile ace leg-spinner Anil Kumble—uses a sensor stuck to the back of the bat to pinpoint the ball’s impact location. It’s an additional parameter for algorithms to assess the power of a shot based on proximity to the bat’s sweet spot.

Others are trying to put sensors inside balls to capture more nuances in their speed, trajectory or even the revs a spinner imparts.

More the merrier, says StanceBeam founder Arminder Thind gamely. “This is a new category, so it’s good to see big names jumping into it."

Keys to success are in tech validation and product-market fit. StanceBeam took its product to the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), where data from its sensors was compared with tracking results from motion capture cameras. The IISc team gave a thumbs-up after finding that the speed and angles of the bat swing captured in the two systems were closely correlated.

As for adoption, Thind says coaches from India and abroad have come on to its digital platform that enables players to post their sensor data and practice videos for assessment.

“We have kids in India training with coaches in Australia on our platform. So, we’re breaking the access barrier, especially for players from small towns," adds Thind.

The StanceBeam device made in India is available in multiple countries as well as e-commerce channels like Amazon. Kookaburra, a leading maker of cricket balls, bats and kits, has become its global distributor.

Still, the adoption of IoT in cricket equipment is likely to scale up only when big-name players start using it. The startup has roped in Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan as a brand ambassador, but the real deal will be when teams feel it can be a game-changer, beyond its novelty value.

Testing bed

Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises, which are constantly trading players and honing strategies, are an obvious target for new tech.

“Sending someone out to bat at a certain point in a T20 game where you need to raise the scoring rate, for example, can be based on how well he was hitting the ball in the nets. And this can now be quantified from bat sensor data," points out Sankar Rajgopal, R&D consultant at King’s XI Punjab, who has been beta-testing Spektacom’s IoT bat sticker ahead of its commercial launch.

Team selections could also be based on this. One could imagine a scenario where a player’s bat swing data becomes a factor in IPL auctions, especially for new players breaking into the league.

It could well prove more useful than performance stats from domestic cricket, which can be heavily skewed by easy batting conditions and weak bowling.

Malavika Velayanikal is a Consulting Editor with Mint. She tweets @vmalu

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