Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has made a demand to host two of the four playoff games of the upcoming 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 at its international stadium in Pune.
Although, Pune may no longer be home to an IPL franchise, but MCA President Abhay Apte claimed that the Maharashtra Cricket Stadium is an automatic choice after the success it achieved playing host to the Rising Pune Supergiants' last season. Pune under Steve Smith reached the finals of the tournament only to lose to Rohit Sharma's Mumbai Indians.
In a letter addressed to IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, Apte said as per The Hindu, “As such, the venue of last year's runners-up of IPL (Pune team), i.e. MCA's stadium at Gahunje, Pune should be the logical choice to stage the eliminator and the qualifier-2 matches. Just because there is no ‘Pune Team’ this year, we cannot change the history and record that this was the venue of the runners-up IPL team (in 2017).”
He further wrote, “Holding matches at Pune will also (be) an honour and justice to the fan base of IPL which has been created at Pune.”
In the last five years, the MCA Stadium has hosted multiple IPL league and playoff matches, and even Shukla and BCCI Acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary had also said that Pune had been shortlisted as a replacement venue for Jaipur during the IPL Auction 2018 last month.
Steve Smith who led RPS to the finals of the tournament last season will now lead Rajasthan Royals after the franchise retained him ahead of the IPL 2018 auctions. Smith will have the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and D'Arcy short for company with the bat, while the bowling attack will be led by Jaydev Unadkat who was the highest paid Indian player at the auctions.