When Sahara successfully bid for an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise earlier this year, they surprised all by choosing Pune as their home city. But a fortnight into the tournament, except for some loyal fans who religiously drive down 125-odd kilometres to watch the Pune Warriors India's 'home' matches, there is hardly a connect with the city.
Venue & player
Neither are the Warriors playing at their base - the ultra-modern stadium near Pune is still under construction - nor has a Punekar taken the field for them in the tournament.
Even though Maharashtra cricket is struggling to produce top-notch cricketers, the Warriors' squad of 30 has four from Maharashtra - Ganesh Gaikwad, Shrikant Mundhe, Harshad Khadiwale and Dheeraj Jadhav. Khadiwale and Jadhav are Punekars, though the latter now represents Assam in domestic cricket. However, none of the four have been shortlisted in the squad of 15 for their five matches so far.
The only Maharashtrian to feature has been Shrikant Wagh, who hails from Buldhana district in Vidarbha. But in cricketing parlance, he is not a Maharashtra cricketer since Vidarbha have a separate Ranji team.
When Warriors' coach Geoff Marsh was queried on the possibility of a local getting an opportunity, before their second clash of the tournament, the Australian had quashed it by saying they didn't want to "fiddle around with the winning combination". Now that the Warriors are on a three-match losing spree, Wednesday will tell if the local cricketers are a part of the scheme of things.