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Pune Warriors players sensed pull-out was on the cards

Pune Warriors India pulling out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) may have come as shock to many yesterday, but the players could sense the decision coming from the team owners Sahara during the Twenty20 event.

For the third season in a row, Pune finished in the bottom half of the points table. In its first year, they finished in ninth position, a place above last-placed Delhi Daredevils in the 2011 edition. The 2012 season was worse, finishing at the bottom of the points table. In the ongoing season, Pune once again managed to finish one place above bottom-placed Delhi with four wins in 16 matches.


Pune Warriors India players after their win over Delhi Daredevils in the last league match of IPL-VI

A Pune Warriors player, who did not want to be quoted, revealed to MiD DAY that the frustration within the management was boiling during the season. “They (owners) were clearly not happy with the way things were unfolding. They were not happy with the way things were between them and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“The manner in which the team was performing, it was clear that they were not interested in continuing for another IPL season. There was no clarity whether the team will exist in the next season. There were no talks about future goals. So, it is not surprising that they have pulled out.”

Fee issue
Sahara’s decision to pull the plug comes after a demand to bring down the franchise fee was not agreed to by the BCCI. Sahara failed to pay the full franchise fee of the Warriors for the current year which resulted in BCCI encashing the bank guarantee which didn’t go down well with the franchise.

They have also decided to discontinue their sponsorship to Team India once their contract with the Indian board expires in December 2013.
Last year too, Pune had attempted to pull out of the IPL, but their differences with the BCCI were amicably settled. They were also persuaded to continue their sponsorship for Team India.

‘Firm and final’
However, this time, Sahara’s decision is “firm and final”. “It is firm and final decision of Sahara to withdraw from IPL,” they said in a statement.

The player said lack of clarity within the team hampered performance as well. “The captain (there were three — Angelo Mathews, Ross Taylor and Aaron Finch) was as clueless as anyone else in the team. We would know the final XI just before the toss. There was no focus, no direction,” he said.

Pune Warriors did not enjoy the advantage at their home ground Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium which is managed by the Maharashtra Cricket Association. “Imagine the captain saying it is good to lose the toss here. We wouldn’t know how the pitch would behave. There would be a different wicket for every match. All these factors led to our downfall,” he said.

Meanwhile, the franchise assured its players and stakeholders that their fees “under no circumstances” will suffer.

Sahara says...
* We continuously requested BCCI for Arbitration from June 2011. But BCCI is only concerned about money and not about the genuine interests of the franchisee

* Sahara suggested the name of a Retired Hon'ble Chief Justice of India on the 5th March 2012 to be appointed as the Arbitrator. There was no response from BCCI for four months and after repeated prodding, finally on the 9th of July Sahara’s advocates received a letter from BCCI rejecting the name proposed by Sahara without mentioning any reason and also without suggesting any alternatives.

* Despite our legal person’s advise of exiting IPL at the start of the season itself, we still in utter sportsmanship spirit went ahead with the season. Had we followed the legal advise of withdrawing at the start of the IPL season, this would have resulted in putting tremendous pressure on BCCI for resolving the issue whereas BCCI has shown its un-sportsmanship and no consideration towards the sports which we have been supporting for more than a decade.

* We share an excellent relationship with the players and will not want such dedicated and good human beings to get harmed financially due to unsporting attitude of BCCI. 

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