Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Pune Warriors India

Posted in Cricket, Pune by Amit Paranjape on April 15, 2011

The Pune Warriors India are off to a great start, leading the points table after the first week. It’s early days in the IPL-4 season yet, but the Pune team has looked quite dominant. Geoff Marsh and co have put together a good balanced team.

Here is a list of the players:

Yuvraj Singh (Captain), Graeme Smith, Jesse Ryder, Robin Uthappa, Ashish Nehra, Angelo Mathews, Wayne Parnell, Alfonso Thomas, Jerome Taylor, Nathan McCullum, Murali Kartik, Monish Mishra, Mithun Manhas, Shrikant Wagh, Rahul Sharma, Callum Ferguson, Tim Paine, Mitchell Marsh, Harshad Khadiwale, Manish Pande, Shrikant Mundhe, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Kamran Khan, Ganesh Gaikwad, Harpreet Singh, Eklavya Dvivedi, Imtiaz Ahmed, Dheeraj Jadhav, Sachin Rana.

Coach: Geoff Marsh, Assistant Coaches: Dermot Reeve, Pravin Amre

Official website of the Pune Warriors: http://punewarriorsindia.com

Official twitter account: http://twitter.com/punewarriorsipl

Twitter list tracking various Pune Warriors Players, Blogs, Fan Clubs, etc.  https://twitter.com/home#/list/aparanjape/pune-warriors-ipl

Ticketing partner – Kyazoonga.Com: http://www.kyazoonga.com/Cricket/Pune_Warriors_India/56/2

Home stadium: IPL-4 season will be played at D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Starting next year, the Warriors will move to their new Pune home (Gahunje, near Talegaon): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pune_International_Cricket_Centre … Here’s a link I found that shows a simulated view of the proposed design: http://www.hopkins.co.uk/projects/_3,135/

My old blog post about the Sahara Pune Warriors: https://aparanjape.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/welcoming-punes-ipl-team-sahara-pune-warriors/

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Welcoming Pune’s IPL Team – Sahara Pune Warriors

Posted in Cricket, Pune by Amit Paranjape on April 25, 2010

Sahara Pune Warriors

The ongoing controversy in IPL not withstanding, Pune cricket lovers enthusiastically welcomed the new team in town: Sahara Pune Warriors. Tens of thousands gathered at the S.P. College Grounds yesterday evening for the name and logo unveiling ceremony. The most valuable IPL Team (new franchise bought by the Sahara Group for $370 Million) got a great reception.

A quick poll across friends/colleagues and a look at twitter stream confirms that the name is “ok” – could have been better; but could have been a lot worse! [ E.g. Dare Devils?? Knight Riders?? , etc.] The same goes with the logo. I personally would have preferred something more modern. Though the city’s connection with the ‘Maratha Warrior’ in the logo, is well represented.

What does the team mean for Pune? For starters, it brings world class cricket to Pune. Local talent will get a big opportunity. Pune has never had its share of good cricket – for various reasons. Hopefully, that will be a thing of the past. And yes, IPL will also bring in some great entertainment with it. Cricket purists dislike the excessive focus on entertainment – I too would prefer more focus on cricket, than the peripheral action. But then it is this entertainment that brings the sport to the masses. Just look at how American Sports Leagues(NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) mix the two. The entertainment doesn’t take the focus away from the main sport. The real stars in the American Leagues continue to be the players: Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, or Alex Rodriguez. And the quality of the skill and athleticism are absolutely terrific.

Looking beyond cricket – the fact that Pune got this team, and with such a huge valuation means something else. Finally, Pune as a city is stepping out of the shadows of Mumbai. Pune has always been the cultural capital of Maharashtra – but the economic size and might of Mumbai have always overshadowed Pune. A look at all the original 8 IPL Teams will tell you that all of them are from capital cities. In India, capital cities have always received some ‘special treatment’ when it comes to infrastructure and other development programs – politics (at all levels) contributes to this. In a sense, Pune winning such an expensive franchise is a victory of ‘Economics’. The rapid growth and rising young affluent work force (driven by IT, Automotive and other Business Sectors) was a clear attraction for the various parties bidding for the Pune Team.

The new 55,000 capacity Pune Cricket Stadium (MCA Pune International Cricket Center)  being constructed at Gahunje (off Mumbai-Pune Expressway, near Talegaon) will be one of the best in the world. Take a look at the impressive proposed design: http://www.hopkins.co.uk/projects/_3,135/ 

I can’t wait for next year’s IPL. The new auction will decide which players become part of this team. Especially the Mumbai-Pune games will be really interesting. Over the coming years, I am sure these games will develop into intense rivalries. With Mumbai likely playing some games at the D.Y. Patil Stadium and Pune playing near Talegaon, this will be one classic ‘Expressway’ Contest!

 

 

The Ranji Trophy Final – One Of The Greatest Matches In Recent Times

Posted in Cricket by Amit Paranjape on January 14, 2010

Great news for the ‘original’ cricket fans! The longer version of the game and Indian Domestic Cricket are both alive and well! We had one of the most spectacular matches in recent memory, over the past 4 days – the Ranji Trophy Final. Fortunes changed every hour and Mumbai barely scrapped through, winning by just 6 runs against Karnataka on Day 4 of this 5 day Match, which was played at Mysore.

This match had everything – great bowling, tenacious batting, terrific catching and excellent crowd support. The Mysore Pitch curators did a splendid job by providing a greenish bowler friendly wicket. For too long, domestic cricket has become a bowler’s graveyard, resulting in very high scoring games that get decided based on first innings lead. This game was a clear exception…in fact at times it felt like the match might get over in just 3 days!

Mumbai won the toss and elected to bat first. Some were skeptical of this decision looking at the fresh green wicket, but Mumbai’s strategy was to bat first and put the pressure on the opposition, especially in such a big game. Karnataka bowlers struck immediately and reduced Mumbai to 20/3. The ball was swinging and doing crazy things – definitely not something you are used to seeing in Indian conditions. Like many times before this season the middle and lower-middle order bailed out Mumbai and got them to a fighting first innings total of 233. Vinay Kumar was quite impressive with 4 wickets. Karnataka fared much worse while batting. From 53/3, they literally collapsed like a deck of cards to 130 all-out, giving Mumbai a very important 103 run first innings lead. For Mumbai, Salvi chipped-in with 5 wickets.

Mumbai’s 2nd innings started with a lot of expectations from their batsmen – they were in a strong position in the match and were expected to consolidate their position further. For a few minutes, it did feel that way, when the normally sedate Wasim Jaffer (Mumbai Captain) struck a couple of quick boundaries. But the Karnataka pace attack was also all charged up and reduced Mumbai to 18/3. Mithun who bowled beautifully throughout, was on a hat-trick.  2 more wickets fell later that session, and at 51/5, Karnataka was back in the match. Again Mumbai’s middle order – Nayar and Dhaval Kulkarni (who was a surprise promotion in the batting line-up), did the rescue act. Nayar fell to what can be described as one of the most spectacular all-time catches, by Manish Pandey! (See attached YouTube clip). Kulkarni carried on and by the time Mumbai innings folded at 234, they had an impressive 337 run lead.

Chasing 337 in the last innings is tough under any conditions, and on this bowling paradise, it seemed like Mumbai had pretty much won the trophy! But the swings in fortune were to continue. There were a few more twists in the tale, yet to come. Karnataka again lost Robin Utthapa (their Captain) and the top two cheaply and at 46/3, it felt like the game could be wrapped up soon. But Pandey and Satish had other ideas. They defended solidly and as the partnership progressed, turned aggressive (especially Pandey). A mammoth 200 run partnership evolved and from a losing position – they were well insight of a comfortable win! This change happened in just 3 hours! Pandey scored an attacking run-a-ball 140. He is clearly an exciting prospect for Team India (for many, the memory of his spectacular century he scored for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL is still fresh…).

But Pandey’s wicket again turned the tide and the big game pressure got to Karnataka. The senior, talented (but often unreliable!) Mumbai pacer Ajit Agarkar took charge, with good support from Kulkarni at the other end. In just over an hour after lunch, Karnataka were down to 322/9 with 15 runs still remaining. The last pair was batting reasonably comfortably until Agarkar got Aravind Caught & Bowled…with just 6 runs remaining!

The scenes of jubilation in the Mumbai camp were amazing. Karnataka players were utterly disappointed – especially Manish Pandey, whose heroic 140 still fell short.  The passion and intensity of the game were visible on the faces of both teams.

As Wasim Jaffer lifted the Ranji Trophy for the 39th time, it was not Mumbai alone who was celebrating. It was a terrific victory for Domestic Cricket! I cannot remember anytime before when there was so much excitement for a domestic game – and this when an international India-Sri Lanka-Bangladesh ODI series was in progress!

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