It may be for a totally different reason, but Pune Warriors are finally out of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Apparently, the BCCI enchased the bank guarantee given to them by the Pune franchise after the latter could not fulfill its commitment of paying the franchise fee, which peeved the men Pune in charge of the franchise enough for them to pull the plug on their association with the tournament. Whatever the reason, the franchise and its players must view the development as a blessing in disguise considering all the mess in the league.
To put things straight, Pune weren’t contributing in anyways to be betterment of the IPL. Even since their inclusion in the league, they have made news more for off-field reasons than their performance on the field. The Sahara-owned franchise were part of the IPL for only three seasons, but did precious little to impress during this tenure. All this, in spite of the fact that they have purchased some highly big names in international cricket. However, in all the three seasons they ended up among the most unsuccessful and disappointing sides in the event.
In their inaugural season in 2011, they got off to an impressive start, winning their first few clashes but ended up second last, winning only a total of four games while losing as many as nine. The players who featured in this edition for Pune included talented players with international experience like Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Jesse Ryder, Angelo Mathews, Murali Kartik, Ashish Nehra, Graeme Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Wayne Parnell and Jerome Taylor. After Nehra was ruled out of injury, they even roped in Sourav Ganguly, but even the charismatic former India skipper could not reverse the team’s fortunes.
Last year as well, Pune had a controversial run in the edition. In fact, even before the season kicked off, they decided to pull out of the tournament, hours before the auction, citing major differences with the BCCI. What’s more, they even decided to pull the plug on the Team India sponsorship. Somehow, the BCCI managed to persuade Pune to stay on, following numerous meetings. With the issues being sorted out, Pune signed on some other big names like Marlon Samuels, Luke Wright, Steve Smith, Tamim Iqbal and Michael Clarke. The latter was named captain in place of Yuvraj Singh, who was ruled out due to his cancer treatment. Nothing could change Pune’s fortunes. They won four games again and lost 12, finishing in the last position.
This year, they were hoping for something better. But, alas it wasn’t to be. If anything, things only got worse. The season again began on an inauspicious note for Pune, as their appointed skipper Michael Clarke was ruled out due to back and hamstring injuries. Yuvraj Singh was back, but looked completely out of sorts. Their bowling was ordinary, and they were embarrassed to the hilt as Chris Gayle smashed 175 not out off 66 balls. Again, they won only four games, but escaped finishing last as they beat Delhi in their final encounter.
--By A Cricket Analyst