IPL 2018: MCA stakes claim to host play-offs in Pune
What's the story?
Despite the dissolution of Rising Pune Supergiant, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has staked claim to host two of the four play-offs matches in the 2018 season of the Indian Premier League. Citing examples from the previous editions of the tournament, MCA is keen on convincing IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla to allocate the high-profile matches to their stadium in Pune.
In a letter reportedly accessed by The Hindu, MCA president Abhay Apte wrote, "As such, the venue of last year's runners-up of IPL (Pune team), i.e. MCA's stadium at Gahunje, Pune should be the logical choice to stage the eliminator and the qualifier-2 matches. Just because there is no ‘Pune Team’ this year, we cannot change the history and record that this was the venue of the runners-up IPL team (in 2017). Holding matches at Pune will also (be) an honour and justice to the fan base of IPL which has been created at Pune."
In case you didn't know...
Although there are no official regulations on the matter, the 'unwritten rule' followed by the tournament's Governing Council sees the first qualifier and final awarded to the abode of the defending champion. On the other hand, the eliminator and second qualifier are usually allocated to the home venue of the runners-up of the preceding season.
The heart of the matter
After entering the IPL at the expense of the then suspended Chennai Super Kings, Rising Pune Supergiant endured a poor debut season as they crashed out in the group stage in 2016. However, they bounced back strongly by reaching the final of the 2017 edition. In the title clash, they lost by the narrowest of margins to Mumbai Indians.
While the opening match as well as final of the 2017 IPL season were played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, the eliminator and second qualifier were held at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. It is pertinent to note that Sunrisers Hyderabad had entered last year's season as defending champions while Royal Challengers Bangalore were the runners-up of the 2016 edition.
Having put forth their stance in a fervent letter addressed to the chairman, it remains to be seen how the Governing Council responds. With plenty of state associations already clamouring to host the lucrative play-offs, they will be looking to resolve the issue in the coming days after deliberating extensively on all possible scenarios.
With the two-year suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals coming to an end, the likes of Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions have to make way from this year's IPL season. Considering the exceptional nature of the entire situation, following an 'unwritten rule' may not seem like a feasible move.