Irrespective of whether Pune Warriors play at home or away, a major chunk of the crowd is draped in the team's turquoise colours and their logo of a spear-wielding warrior atop a horse. Quite a bit of fanfare for a team that has lost eight straight matches.
Contrary to the allusion, however, they are not Warriors fans, most aren’t even cricket fans —they’re Sahara India employees who’ve been given tickets as reward for bringing in the cash for Subroto Roy’s empire.
In the match against the Rajasthan Royals on Sunday, the Western Stand was filled entirely with Pune’s ‘fans’. Nathu Ram, who works in Sahara’s Udaipur office, was one of the nearly 1,500 Sahara workers who turned up to cheer the Warriors.
He was given a match ticket, a Sahara Warriors jersey, and the team’s flag and cap by the company after achieving the financial goals set for him.
Many other Sahara employees are being ‘rewarded’ with similar bonuses, with in-house contests being held across the various locations where Sahara operates.
It was also revealed that the company’s most productive employees are being flown to Pune for the team’s home matches.
Sporting events have become increasingly popular for top corporate executives hobnobbing in the luxurious setting of corporate boxes, be it the Formula One paddock or the IPL’s Diamond Box. However, most of the employees being rewarded in this endeavour are base-level workers.
All this has ensured that Pune Warriors are not short on ‘Sahara’ when they play, and make many employees a happy lot. Now, if only they could find a way to win matches!