‘Owners are not from Pune, nor are any players. If Pune players are not given a chance, we would make strong protests,’ reads a board right across the hotel where Pune Warriors India stay for their home games.
And while making protests might be stretching it too far, the lack of Pune connection has been a major talking point in the city throughout the IPL-V season. The PWI squad has two players from Pune, opening batsman Harshad Khadiwale, and left-hand opener Dheeraj Jadhav, who now represents Assam in Ranji Trophy. And despite four-five changes being made in each of their last two games, the local players have not got a look in.
The reason is obvious. Ganguly doesn’t rate either of the two. “The talented guys from Maharashtra have already been bought by some other teams,” he said earlier in the week. Although it’s difficult to understand what that is supposed to mean, as the pace bowling duo of Aditya Dole and Samad Fallah, both with Rajasthan Royals, are the only other Maharashtra players to be part of IPL-V.
“It’s disappointing to see no players or support staff from Pune or Maharashtra,” Maharashtra Cricket Association’s Aussie cricket director Shaun Williams said. “Without being privy to any inside knowledge it’s difficult to judge exactly what is going on — but it appears evident that the team has no real or even manufactured connection to the city and the “Pune Warriors” logo that is on the shirt appears to have little meaning to the players who are wearing it.
Lack of team spirit
“In short, it appears that the team has little “spirit or soul”…. This may (or may not) be a harsh and incorrect assessment but it is what it is and that’s just how it appears from outside. I am a huge believer in team spirit and playing for the honour and pride of who you are supposed to be representing (in this case — the city of Pune and the larger state of Maharashtra) and when teams/players don’t have it… it is noticeable,” Williams added.
“Look at the records of Kedar Jadhav, Rohit Motwani, Akshay Darekar this season. Harshad Khadiwale, Shrikant Mundhe (who played one game for PWI last season), Ganesh Gaikwad have all been performing well. I am not questioning the commitment of any PWI player here, no doubt they are trying. But I can’t help but wonder, would the players mentioned above do any worse than what the current group has achieved over the past two seasons?”
And indeed, they would have cost a lot less too!