New-age ground, big ambitions
The city hasn't hosted a lot of international cricket, but the IPL has raised its profile nonetheless
One of the cities swept up in India's original information-technology boom, Pune was known for its cantonments, factories surrounding it, and its educational institutions till about 20 years ago. But then the sudden expansion of the IT industry in the 1990s attracted techies from all over India, and the once-sleepy town transformed into a major metropolis.
Cricket-wise, Pune has always been Mumbai's second cousin. The city is home to the Maharashtra Ranji team, which is the third team from the state - Mumbai and Vidarbha being the other two. The Nehru Stadium started hosting international matches in 1984 and witnessed an upset during the 1996 World Cup when Kenya surprised West Indies in a low scorer. The ground, though, remained a B centre and has hosted only 11 ODIs - the last in 2005.
Fortunes changed in 2011 when Pune became home to the Warriors IPL franchise, but it took another year for the 55,000-capacity Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium to host its first match, during the 2012 IPL. The ground drew crowds despite being a fair distance away from the city centre.
In December 2012, the stadium got its first taste of international cricket when it hosted a T20 between India and England. It has now taken over the mantle of the No. 1 venue in the city, and is primed to be a major venue in coming years.
Kenya v West Indies, World Cup, February 1996
Kenya, playing their first World Cup, pulled off one of the greatest upsets of them all when they bowled West Indies out for 93 in Pune. And it wasn't some strike-affected West Indies line-up either: Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Richie Richardson and Jimmy Adams all contributed to the total, such as it was. No one would have given Kenya any chance of winning the match, even after they staged a recovery from 81 for 6 to 166, but things began to look distinctly rosy for them when Lara fell, caught by Kenya's portly and mostly incompetent keeper, Tariq Ali. From 33 for 3 West Indies slipped to 65 for 6 and eventually to their second-lowest total at the time. However, West Indies went on to the semi-finals, where they lost to Australia. Kenya finished bottom of their group.
Maharashtra won two consecutive Ranji titles in 1940 and 1941, and they made it to two more finals - the last of which was 20 years ago. They remain a second-string Ranji side and were placed in Group B in 2012-13.
Pune's IPL side have played only two seasons of the tournament and are yet to cause a flutter. They finished the first season ninth out of ten teams, and finished last in the 2012 edition.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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