Pune may not be the venue of choice for the play-offs of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year, having been the home of the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant, but the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) is not willing to take it lying down.
According to reports, the MCA has asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to allot two play-offs of the upcoming season of the IPL to the Gahunje ground in Pune.
In a letter to IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, and marked to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, IPL COO Hemang Amin and other office-bearers, MCA president Abhay Apte pointed out the practice of allotting the first match, qualifier one and the final at the home ground of the previous year's champions, and the eliminator and qualifier two at the venue of the runners-up, according to a report in The Hindu, and underlined the fact that Rising Pune Supergiant had finished runners-up last year, going down to Mumbai Indians at the last hurdle.
“As such, the venue of last year's runners-up of IPL (Pune team), ie MCA's stadium at Gahunje, Pune should be the logical choice to stage the eliminator and the qualifier-2 matches. Just because there is no ‘Pune Team’ this year, we cannot change the history and record that this was the venue of the runners-up IPL team (in 2017)," Apte wrote in the letter.
He added that holding IPL matches in Pune would be "an honour and justice to the fan base of IPL which has been created at Pune".
Apte's letter goes on to point out that the Gahunje ground had hosted three international and eight IPL matches last year, and that it is "fit and ready" for international and IPL matches anytime, according to a Cricbuzz report.
It may be recalled that Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions had replaced the suspended Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. With the readmission of RR and CSK this year, the Supergiant and Lions have had to make way.
It remains to be seen whether Pune does get the marquee play-off matches, but during the IPL auctions last month, Shukla and BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary had stated that Pune would be the home ground of the Rajasthan Royals if Jaipur did not get the requisite clearance from the state government.
Meanwhile, the IPL governing council would shortly decide on the timing opf IPL matches. There was a proposal from the broadcasters Star Sports to reschedule the weekend matches to 5.30 pm and 7 pm. However, the proposal faced opposition from the franchises and the timings are likely to stay at 4 pm and 8 pm respectively.