Warning: Long post. Potentially enjoyable.
The BCCI probably doesn’t want Pune to have an IPL team. That’s why they postponed the bidding process due on Sunday (March 7). That’s what I would infer if the insightful thoughts part for the postponement of the bidding was up to me!
But it does help that for whatever reason, the BCCI has taken a reality check and is scaling back on its monetary demands. In other words, someone has told them to open their mouths a bit less!
Coming back to my original argument, it wouldn’t make sense for the BCCI to have two teams from cities just three hours apart. Having said that, Delhi and Punjab (KXIP, based in Mohali) are no different. So a franchise from Pune with the Mumbai Indians already present would perhaps dilute the Mumbai Indians’ fan base. Didn’t happen with Delhi/KXIP and don’t think would’ve happened with Pune/Mumbai.
What does amaze me is that there is enough money to invest in this ($100 million guarantee etc) as confirmed by Atul Chordia of the Panchsheel Group:
"The reason given was that they unilaterally cancelled the bids," Atul Chordia, chairman and chief executive of the Panchshil Group, said. "It is not the question of happiness about the previous terms. Whatever terms and conditions were there we abided by it, whatever the tender form asked for we gave it, we tendered. We gave the 100 million dollar bank guarantee."
Whether or not Modi & Co. feel there is need for a Pune team, here are some arguments for it:
- There is only one team from West India (North has 3 with Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan; South has three with Deccan, Bangalore and Chennai).
- Pune is not Mumbai. It is not Navi Mumbai or Thane either. It is a whole other city. That is big enough to have its own IPL team. Serious.
- There are cricket fans in Pune. Although the lack of a ground may prevent us from proving this, we are ready to assemble eight times in two months at one ground to cheer our team. Promise.
While the BCCI and Modi mull over these compelling arguments, one has started to wonder what the name of this team could be… some thoughts:
- Puneri Peshwas: The flip side of this is if the Peshwa style of thinking and working came about, this team would fare worse than the KKR!
- Pune Marathas: This would be an invitation to large scale caste discussions. I hope not, but unfortunately there are enough disruptive elements around who would try to cash in on the fact that it is not only the Marathas who live in Pune (and the regions it would represent).
- Pune Pilots/Penguins/Parrots/Pensioners: Unfortunately, it could be some such alliterative nonsense that the city is saddled with. My imagination in all its limited ability could only come up with this. It is also unfortunate that Pune Pensioners for some reason, sounds like a good name for this team. Bah.
- Pune Chhatrapatis: Hey, if there can be two teams that are Kings (Super Kings, KXIP) and two Royals (RCB and RR), there can be a vernacular King as well.
As mentioned, my limited imagination stops me there. As does my ever-increasing fear of having a team that has some ridiculous name and even more ridiculous punchline etc. But hey, KKR is living with it, so can we. Chin up.
The Glam factor: This is critical for any IPL team. KKR, KXIP, RR, RCB, MI definitely have it. DC, DD and CSK definitely don’t. If Pune does get their team with the announced consortium (Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor and corporates), we will certainly have it. Much more than the others! Also, we can count on local bigwigs to turn up in all their vociferous and 010 glory (the 9-yard saree) to the games. Be sure to spot Atul Kulkarni, Sonali Kulkarni, a bunch of Firodias, Poonawallas, Kalmadis and the usual smattering of the P3P (Page 3 People). Hm. Come to think of it, that does bring down the glam quotient a notch, but we’re sure the Khan and Kapoors will come with their coterie/entourage to keep up the glam.
The Icon Players: With Pune hardly having any big name cricketers of note, we would have to look beyond our
shores mountains plains railway tracks to find someone to ‘iconize’. I say bring in the foreigners, but only from southern hemisphere countries. We don’t want the whole “Northern fellow” issue being raked by the SS and MNS. I also propose that Hrishikesh Kanitkar come out of retirement and be involved with the team in a non-playing captain capacity. He has the brains, he has the experience, just never got the exposure. I also propose that we make Greg Chappel our coach. He is the only one who could keep the Peshwas awake, I daresay.
Schedule: One strong argument in favour of Pune having its team is that it will ensure the best possible lifestyle for players, fans and viewers on TV. Historically, Pune as a city has slept (siesta is too mild a word) from 1pm to 4pm. Phone callers during this time are routinely abused with unkind references to their mothers, fathers, sisters or all of them together. So a match in Pune may not start before 5pm. That is when Chitale Bandhu, Hindustan Bakery and Kayani Bakery will be definitely open for the fans to buy their bakarwadi, mawa cake and or wafers and head over to the ground (wherever that be). This timing would also ensure that teams playing in Pune get that extra hour to reach here. They will need it since there aren’t that many flights coming to Pune. And if they try to be smart by taking the bus from Mumbai, they will only have to suffer at Lonavala and also Vashi toll naka.
Facilities: One unfortunate fact of life would be that the team would invariably practice either at the Poona Club ground or at the Deccan Gymkhana ground – the only two venues in the city with grass on them. In the first case, they would live at the Blue Diamond or at Le Meridien. The Sun ‘n Sand is just too passé now. In the second case, the choices are limited. The Oakwood, Deccan Rendezvous, The Ambassador, The Coronet, The Pride, The Gordon House Hotel and The Orbett are a walk or a jog away, but may not be available at all times. The team owners/management would do well to have rooms on standby at Shreyas, Raj Lodge, Rajhans and even Ashish Plaza just in case an important politician from Baramati were to drop in and book all rooms available just to keep miscreants guessing where he is staying. Of course, the new hotels at Hinjewadi are an option, but I believe the lack of entertainment options would keep teams away from there. I mean, you can go to Mezza9 only so many times! If nothing works, Pune offers some of the most competitive rates on cot-basis sharing accommodation. Available in abundance around Deccan and Camp.
To sum up, Pune does deserve an IPL team. We are woefully short of good-looking people to cheer for on posters around the city. It would help to look up and for once, not see politicians celebrating their birthdays. It would be worth having merchandise that says “Pune *****”. It would be good to be at a stadium where we can whip
Mumbai’s Kolkata’s a** for the world to see which is the better city.
And most importantly, we need the attention. The city needs roads. History has taught the Punekar that roads in Pune are built only when a major event is coming to town. So please, give us a cricket team.
P.S.: Please disregard the above if it offends you. It is a feeble attempt at humor. Don’t come after me with bats, stumps, cricket balls or plastic bottles. If you do like it, send me money. I also want to be part of the ‘consortium’ bidding for the team. Then we can make sure the team is NOT called Pune Pensioners.