Before I start, I would like to mention that Pune was never the first IPL team I have rooted for. Almost all of us Punekars were ardent fans of Mumbai or some other teams. I too, was one to support a Maharashtrian team which was led by God himself. However, it was 3 years later when Pune too got its own IPL franchise that I was forced to question my loyalties. Yes, Pune is everything that I am, but to change support to Pune was a tough decision, since it was like choosing between God and Home. Plus, the signings of Pune Warriors and their play did not help.
In all IPLs Pune has played till date, the Warriors started out wonderfully only to end disastrously by the end of the season. We never even entered the semis or the finals and seeing the team carrying the name of MY city made me hate the Warriors instead of rooting for them. Yes, I did enjoy watching matches at the Subroto Roy Sahara Stadium (one of which Pune won and the other was the semi-final between DD and KKR, so that was a bummer), but somehow, the Pune team never really evoked that loyalty and passion in me to go behind them completely.
Pune started out disastrously in the first two matches and made a great comeback against Rajhasthan Royals, so this gives me hopes of seeing Pune do better this season, because it started out wonderfully in the last season and lost it by the end.
Then, this season began. This time, I was not just a Puneri, I was a Punekar writing about what I love, especially Pune, and so this skyrocketed my deep love for Pune. But once again, the team wasn’t even close to what I had hoped. Angelo Matthews as Captain, I mean, really? But things have turned out quite the opposite. Pune started out disastrously in the first two matches and made a great comeback against Rajhasthan Royals, so this gives me hopes of seeing Pune do better this season. Pune has never lost the first two matches it has played in the IPL, until this time. So its a new beginning of sorts and that keeps us Punekars optimistic. Even after Dravid and Rajhasthan clicked and made a decent total of 146, but Pune played like it was a do or die and everyone put in their best. Yes, our New Zealand cricketer Jesse Rider’s absence is always felt (the hard hitter is still in coma), but finally, we have got to see a good match and a positive result. This comeback should help us in an important match, the one against, Mumbai.
The toughest question for many Punekar’s like me would be, “Sachin or Pune, God or Heaven”
But today is when the battle gets toughest, when we face Mumbai. It has God, it has Harbhajan, it has Pollard and Smith, bowlers like Lasith Malinga and Mitchel Johnson and now, Ricky Ponting. Mumbai just keeps on getting better each season. Whatever the result maybe, it has re instigated what Pu La Deshpande calls Punekar vs Mumbaikar (Nagpurkar cha kay challay mahit nahi). But though between Pune vs Mumbai, I would run by Pune’s side each time, this time, there is a small twist. The toughest question for many Punekar’s like me would be, “Sachin or Pune, God or Heaven”(though Pune is definitely not what one might imagine heaven to be, my fondness for the city makes me call it that)