Wonder Cement’s 2nd edition of Saath7 successfully culminated its two-months long rural immersion journey in Udaipur. After a rigorous succession of teams at tehsil, district and zonal levels including as many as 48,000 participants, the Shri Shyam Cricket Club from Jaipur lifted the Men’s title while the hosts Udaipur’s Pacemaker won the Women’s title.
The finale was graced by the presence of 1983 World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev alongside Shri Shrichand Kriplani, Cabinet Minister of Urban Development & Housing (Govt. of Rajasthan). Earlier, Kapil Dev had flagged off the event in November and he didn’t fail to impress with his generosity. As promised, he offered a huge sum of Rs. 1 lakh to the player who captivated him the most.
The thrilling finale day began with a nail-biting Women’s finale between the teams – Pacemaker, Udaipur and S.S. Jain Subodh P.G. Girls College, Jaipur. The hosts put to bowl first, restricted the Jaipur team to a paltry score of 38 and fought their way to win the coveted title – chasing the target with singles and doubles. In an exclusive chat with EssentiallySports, the winning team thanked the largesse of Wonder Cement for giving them this platform to showcase their talent and skills.
“We are mostly university students, but we have a few members from the school team as well. It feels great to win the tournament and we are all set to fight for the next tournaments. However, there are no organized tournaments for Women, so we have to make do with whatever we get”
The enthusiasm and excitement was palpable as the finale progressed with teams from Ahmedabad, Bharatpur, Udaipur and Jaipur playing the semi-finals of the tournament. The crowds went crazy cheering every six their team hit or booing the other side when its player got out. To have such a fan-following for a rural team is a spectacle worth pondering.
In a quick chat with EssentiallySports between the matches, Tarun Singh Chauhan, Management Advisor, Wonder Cement elucidated the reason behind these devotee’s enthusiasm.
“Saath7 is a consumer engagement program. There are only two things that every Indian has an opinion on – cricket and politics. We chose cricket to target the masses. There is Neo Sports covering the event live on TV and, Red (93.5) and Big (92.7) FM stations on the radio. Watching themselves live is the biggest platform that these masses want and we have achieved that”
Tarun Singh Chauhan further outlined the management’s vision behind this one-of-a-kind cricket extravaganza targeted towards the rural masses.
“We launched the campaign to penetrate our markets deeper. You won’t find teams participating from Jammu & Kashmir because we don’t sell cement there. But, if you go to any of the tehsils in these 3 states (Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh), you will find Wonder Cement cemented in their minds”
With the intension of further expanding the program to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Tarun Singh Chauhan further quipped that the organisers had learnt a lot on the way. Yet their resolve has been unwavering.
“We are not running a social program here. We have provided the platform and it is for the cricket associations and cricket government to recognise the talent we have discovered. Just look at these players here – absolutely raw. They don’t fear anyone. They are much better than some of the players we have in our national teams”
The talent on display was indeed raw and fearless. While the bats-women earlier showed poise and calm while chasing the target, the batsmen were sheer ruthless. Reverse sweeps, Dil-scoop, Dhoni’s trademark Helicopter shot – you name it and you have it. In fact, the batsmen didn’t show a single care for the extra bounce offering red flash ball with which the tournament was played.
Fighting the Rajasthan afternoon heat and the immense pressure of living up to their fans’ expectations, it was Jaipur’s Shri Shyam Cricket Club that went on to lift the Saath7 trophy. Having played well throughout, Ahmedabad’s champion team, PCA Eleven fell short on their efforts – leaking 86 runs in their bowling innings. The target was too steep for the Ahmedabad side to meet and the team lost its three wickets in quick succession. The batsmen then tried to steer the innings, but the efforts came too late.
The winners of the tournament were rewarded the following accolades:
- Saath7 Champions Men received Rs. 3,50,00o and a glimmering trophy. The runner-up teams were rewarded with a cash prize of Rs.1, 40,000 and Rs.70,000 respectively
- Saath7 Champion Women received cash prize of Rs. 1,40,000. Every participating player in the finals was given cricket gear too.
- Man of the Match, Lakhan from Shri Shyam Cricket Club, Jaipur, was given a cash prize of Rs.7000/-
- Man of the match in all matches were given a cash prize of Rs.3500/-
- Best Fielder, Sanjay Bhadaniya was given a cash prize of Rs.7000/-
- Best Batsman, Sushil Meena was given a cash prize of Rs.7000/-
- Best Bowler, Kaushal Kaushik was given a cash prize of Rs.7000/-
- Best Women Player of the tournament, Divya from Udaipur, was given a cash prize of Rs.35,000/-
- Man of the Series, Sushil Meena was given a cash prize of Rs.35,000/-
Marking the final countdown, Vivek Patni, Director, Wonder Cement said, “Wonder Cement Saath7 Cricket Mahotsav 2017 has set a new precedent globally by being the first of its kind tournament in its scale, reach and participation.”
“I am glad that the goal of having this tourney has been largely achieved with the huge participation across the states and I hope that the sporting spirit generated through this event sustains to further benefit the states and the nation.”
It is time Indian corporates took note and launched similar campaigns. There is no dearth of sports talent in our country, however, opportunities and sponsorships are hard to find. Wonder Cement’s Saath7 is a win-win formula that has hit the ball out of the park!