1992-93 was a landmark year for Maharashtra Cricket. It had been 44 years since Maharashtra had last won the Ranji trophy and in 1992-93 it finally it seemed the drought would end. Santosh Jedhe had a sensational season and Shantanu Sugwekar played a tremendous innings in the semi finals against the two best fast bowlers in the country then ( Ashish Winston Zaidi and Obaid Kamal- they never played for the country but that’s a different story.) It was widely believed that Maharashtra would win the finals but Punjab piped them to the post. The drought has still not ended and perhaps never will.
But that run to final did a lot of good things for Maharashtra cricket. It brought Jedhe, Iqbal Siddique and Sugwekar to the National reckoning. Maharashtra cricket was recognized around the country (at least for some time) and youngsters like me were genuinely inspired.
Why am I writing this? Because a while back someone asked me if I was following the Pune Sahara warriors in the IPL. I have actually never enjoyed watching the IPL as much as I enjoy watching Test, one day or even Ranji Trophy cricket. I have been fortunate and privileged to witness live some great test matches over the last few years. But I have never watched nor desired till today to watch an IPL game. Of course that might change in the future. And ofcourse I recognize that if you keep aside the non- sense about bollywood, cheergirls, SRK, Preity etc etc, it is a pretty decent tournament. Its just that too much importance is given to matters other than cricket and that absolutely pisses me off.
Now coming back to the Pune team. Why should I support this team? It is owned by a corporate house from Lucknow. I have not seen a single Maharashtra based player play a single game for it. It is captained by a Punjabi middle order batsman and its coach is an Australian. It plays all its home games in Navi Mumbai. If the Pune team does win the IPL, it does not benefit the young players of my city, it does not help in developing the cricket infrastructure of my state. Quite frankly this team does not represent my state or my city. It represents a corporate house and I have no affiliation towards that corporate house.
Were Maharashtra to win the Rnji trophy next year or the year after that, it would bring a big smile to my face. Were Pune to win or lose the IPL, I am not sure it would matter that much to me.