Everything Pune is for IPL: Title Pretenders, Caretakers and Co-Hosts

Through an enthralling 17 years, the city of Pune has been a small but impactful part of the behemoth that is the Indian Premier League.
Everything Pune is for IPL: Title Pretenders, Caretakers and Co-Hosts
Everything Pune is for IPL: Title Pretenders, Caretakers and Co-Hosts Image Credit: The Bridge Chronicle

Since 2008 the Indian summers have revolved around one of our country’s biggest festivals, the Indian Premier League. Over its 17-year journey, the IPL has grown into a global event which glamourises one of India’s favourite pass-times, cricket. Through this journey, the city of Pune has managed to be a small but impactful part of the magnanimous Indian Premier League and interacted with this multi-billion-dollar enterprise through a few unique touchpoints. 

Though not part of the original eight cities which had teams in the inaugural season of the IPL, Pune has had two franchises with its name and then was part of this T20 carnival as a host venue in the troubling times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Exploring this tumultuous relationship, we need to travel back to 2010 when IPL had its first expansion and brought in two new franchises.

IPL Title Pretenders

One of the teams was the Kochi Tuskers Kerela and the other was the Pune Warriors India, owned by the Sahara group, who bought the team for around INR 1702 crores. Ahead of their debut IPL season, the Warriors went all out in the IPL 2011 auction and bought exciting international and domestic talent with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Jesse Ryder, Mitchell Marsh, Alfonso Thomas, Rahul Sharma and Manish Pandey. 

With this stacked squad, the Warriors got off to a great start as they defeated  Kings XI Punjab and Kochi Tuskers Kerala at home before hitting a massive downward dip. After their opening victories, Pune registered just two more wins and ended the season with a record of fours, nine losses and one no-result. But this poor first season wasn’t the biggest problem for the franchise ahead of 2012 as Sahara withdrew Pune Warriors India from the IPL along with the sponsorship of the Indian cricket team just hours before the 2012 IPL auction.

The boycott was based on the amount of franchise fee to be paid by the Pune team. Sahara argued the massive franchise fee was based on a 94-match season promised by the BCCI which didn’t come true. Rather the IPL 2011 had only 74 matches and hence Sahara demanded a reduction in the franchise fee to be paid by them to maintain a viable proposition. Further, Sahara and BCCI also had differences regarding rules of player retention, the 4-foreign player rule and also the refusal to allow Pune to add Yuvraj Singh's price to their auction purse as Yuvi was set to miss the 2012 because of his cancer treatment.

These issues were eventually resolved and PWI was part of IPL 2012. Pune built a squad from players outside the auction like Marlon Samuels, Luke Wright, Steve Smith, Tamim Iqbal, James and Michael Clarke. But this wasn’t enough as Pune had another disastrous season with just four wins and 12 losses in 16 matches. The trend continued in 2013 with the Warriors settling for a second-last-placed finish while replicating a win-loss record from 2012.

After IPL 2013 another massive controversy hit the Pune Warriors India as they were caught in another dispute between Sahara and the BCCI. On May 21, two days after the league stage of the tournament concluded, Sahara withdrew Pune Warriors India from the IPL for the second time in three years. The BCCI terminated Pune Warriors after the Sahara-owned franchise defaulted on payments and refused to deliver the bank guarantee for the 2014 season, ending a tumultuous chapter in IPL’s short history.


Two years after the chaotic end of the Pune Warriors India, Queen of Deccan got its second IPL franchise, be it for a short period. This was a result of another scandal in the IPL after the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, were suspended due to their involvement in illegal betting by their respective owners. Replacing these teams, the Gujarat Titans and the Rising Pune Super Giants (Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017) were brought in, which included players from the two suspended teams.

The franchise was owned by  RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group controlled by Sanjiv Goenka and saw one of India’s most successful captains, MS Dhoni at the helm. Alongside MSD, RPSG brought in players like Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, and Faf du Plessis among others. But this wasn’t enough as the city of Pune had to settle another season of mediocrity with the Super Giants finishing seventh out of eight with five wins and nine losses.

IPL 2016 was a rare blip in Dhoni’s captaincy career as the 2011 World Cup winner hadn’t missed the IPL playoff since 2008. Hence ahead of the 2017 season, the Pune-based franchise changed its name and captain. Now called Rising Pune Super Giant replaced Dhoni with Aussie great Steve Smith. These drastic changes certainly worked as Pune finished second on the table with nine wins and five losses, ensuring playoff qualification.

Captain Smith top-scored with 472 runs alongside local boy Rahul Tripathi, who had a surprising 391-run tally. In the bowling department, Jaydev Unadkat starred with 24 wickets while being supported by Imran Tahir and Ben Stokes thanks to their 18 and 12 scalps. Then in the playoffs, RPS won the first qualifier by 20 runs before facing Mumbai Indians for the second time and suffering a hard-fought one-run defeat, concluding a celebrated period for Pune in the IPL.


After having two teams representing the city in the IPL, Pune has had a subdued role over the last years. After being the home venue for the Pune Warriors India and Rising Pune Super Giant, Maharashtra’s cultural capital co-hosted games for Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018. It also saw a handful of games for Kings XI in 2015 and an eliminator match in the same season.

Then in 2022, the IPL returned to India during the COVID-19 pandemic after two years in UAE with Mumbai and Pune as the two host cities for the league stage to ensure the safety of players, support staff and other stakeholders. The 55 matches in Mumbai were played across the Wankhede Stadium, the DY Patil Stadium and the Brabourne Stadium while the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium hosted the remaining 15 fixtures in Pune. Overall Pune’s MCA Stadium has hosted 51 games and given fans some exciting moments to cheer.

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