It is the gravity of brand M S Dhoni which has attracted big names like PepsiCo, Aircel, TVS, Titan, Reebok and Amrapali Group to sponsor the cricket tournament series conceptualised by the India team captain's Charitable Foundation.
The series which started from October last year with an objective to promote the game at grass-root level by MS Dhoni Charitable Foundation and Rhiti Sports Management, is gaining traction from corporates who are already spending a big moolah to have Dhoni onboard as their brand ambassador.
While real estate firm Amrapali Group is the latest to join the bandwagon, PepsiCo has also committed to finance cricket training in Australia for players to be selected later this year after the final leg of the tournament.
"It is for the first time that Amrapali Group has decided to provide financial assistance for the tournament since its launch last year," a Rhiti Sports Management executive told PTI. Besides being a co-organiser of the event, Rhiti Sports also manages Dhoni's endorsement deals.
The official said with the brand Dhoni reaching a new high after the World Cup victory, corporates are coming forward in a big way to support the initiative.
"After ten legs of the Aircel Trophy tournament get over in October-November this year, five or six under-19 players will be selected for formal cricket training in Australia which will be sponsored by PepsiCo," the executive said without giving financial details.
That is not all, the Aircel Trophy tournament will award the best bowler, batsman and wicketkeeper along with the 'Man of the Tournament' who will win a TVS bike at the end. The man of the match will win a Titan Sonata wrist watch.
"Pepsi has come out in full support to be the official beverage partner and Reebok is providing the apparels and the kits," the company said.
The brain child of MS Dhoni, the foundation is aimed at overall development of sports by setting up academies and schools for the purpose.
The fourth leg of the series of 10 cricket tournaments being held across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand concluded in Noida on Sunday.
The previous legs of the tournament were held at Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Ranchi, the home town of the Indian skipper who was present at the inaugural match.
With his brand equity at the peak, Dhoni is also graduating to a new level in the endorsement market, where instead of signing plain deals for a certain fee he will look at revenue sharing or be a partner in the brands he promotes.
Dhoni, who has been named as more influential than US President Barack Obama by the Time magazine, is likely to execute the new concept in two deals that he is expected to sign in the next one month.
The cricketer is currently the face of over 20 brands and charges around Rs 6 crore per endorsement, according to industry estimates. The pack of brands endorsed by the Indian cricket captain includes Reebok, Aircel, Godrej and TVS Motor.