Pune: While the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje, Pune was scheduled to host the Qualifier 2 and Eliminator matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018, the venue will now get to host six more games in IPL 2018 after Chennai Super Kings’ home games were shifted out of Chennai following the ongoing Cauvery protests.
Although Saurashtra, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvanantpuram were also in a race to host CSK’s home games, the IPL governing council chose Pune over the other three venues.
While the Cauvery row has been ongoing, the protests intensified ahead of CSK’s game against Kolkata Knight Riders, with protestors threatening to disrupt the game. A shoe was also thrown at Ravindra Jadeja during KKR’s innings as the police had to take action against a group of spectators inside the stadium.
While there is a last-minute change, Pune is ready to host the games, said the MCA president Abhay Apte.
“It is unfortunate that the home team has to shift out of their venue. The team (CSK) is named after the venue. But we (MCA) have to take it as a challenge and we have immediately geared up our machinery. The stadium is very much in playing condition. The facilities are on. We will have to do very extensive work in getting it done on the right time. So, the last night itself our duties have started,” said Apte.
Apte also sounded positive about the ticket sales and the subsequent solid crowd support for the matches, despite the last-minute change.
“We are hopeful (about good response) because Pune has always supported the outside teams as well. Dhoni was playing in Pune last time and he was a major attraction for the Pune crowd. The Pune crowd has been fans of IPL matches and there’s huge online ticket sale, which is always seen in Pune,” he said.
When asked whether Dhoni being comfortable was one of the major reasons why the games were moved to Pune, Apte said, “I think there would be a few reasons. Of course, that is (MS Dhoni’s preference) one of the major reasons. Secondly, the revenue generation, which is possible at Pune because the gate money is very high if compared to the other centres. Thirdly, it is geographically well connected. It has an airport and it is very close to Mumbai.”
“The coach (Stephen Fleming) and the main players were playing in Pune last year. So, that comfort is also there,” concluded Apte.
While CSK will be playing at least 12 more games, their next home game is scheduled to take place on April 20, against the Ajinkya Rahane-led Rajasthan Royals....