Karachi: With 53 days remaining in the countdown to cricket's most prestigious event, Pakistan's World Cup bid proved a sticky wicket on Monday as a sponsor tried single handedly to whip up enthusiasm for the coming championship. International Cricket Council (ICC) co-sponsor LG, the South Korean electronics giant, broke the virtual silence on sponsorship for the Pakistani side by offering cash rewards if it brought home the coveted Cup. "As part of our campaign to promote the event we announce 10 million Pakistan Rupees ($ 172,000) reward for the Pakistan team if they win the Cup and 750,000 Pakistan Rupees if they finish runners-up," LG regional marketing chief Hamid Malik told reporters. It is the sole major sponsorship campaign to date in Pakistan, which is a contender to win the eighth World Cup, which is to run from February 8 to March 23 in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The game enjoys unparalleled status in the country of 145 million people, but corporate sponsors have been slow to express support, unlike in other countries such as rival India. Co-sponsor Pepsi will bring the Cup trophy to Islamabad next week in an effort to generate excitement, sorely lacking in recent months due in part to Pakistan's middling performance in recent series. "Advertisers in Pakistan should wake up next month, because the market is very small compared to India," said marketing expert Kamal Shams. A looming sponsorship crisis that the ICC has failed to settle is threatening to end in fiasco.