The absence of Rising Pune Supergiant, the runner-up in the last IPL, has given rise to an interesting challenge for the tournament organsiers, who have not yet announced the final schedule for the 2018 edition. The IPL has only said that the tournament will commence on April 7 in Mumbai, which will also host the final on May 27.
Usually, the eliminator and the second qualifier are held at the home venue of the runner-up in the previous season. By that token, Pune should be the automatic choice. However, ESPNcricinfo understands that some of the other state associations are lobbying to host those two play-off matches. Lucknow and Kolkata are two venues that have been pushed as potential favourites to replace Pune.
In a move to eliminate rival states from staking claim, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) president Abhay Apte sent an e-mail to the IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla on Monday, requesting that the eliminator and the second qualifier be staged in Pune as per norm.
In the two-page letter, Apte noted the MCA request was only valid because the IPL had been following an "unwritten rule" of allotting the tournament opener, the Qualifier 1 and the final to the home venue of the defending champions. "For past several years we are observing a practice, which has become an unwritten rule of playing the first (tournament opener), and Qualifier 1 as well as the final match at the venue of last year's champions and playing the Eliminator and Qualifier 2 matches at the venue of the runners up team," Apte said in the e-mail. "Pune IPL team (Supergiant) was the runner-up during the last year's IPL and of course the home venue was Pune. As such, the venue of the last year's runners-up of IPL team i.e. MCA's Gahunje, Pune should be the logical choice to stage the Eliminator and Qualifier 2 matches."
Apte pointed out that "history" could not be changed just because the Supergiant team no longer exists.
Pune is also the second choice home venue for the Rajasthan Royals, who are awaiting a final verdict from the Rajasthan High Court on whether matches can be staged at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo