For the third consecutive season, the Indian Premier League will be without a team from Pune

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Pune, 14 Aug 2020: Pune has a rich history in the IPL, having had two different franchises in the past- the Pune Warriors and the Rising Pune Supergiant- but the city has not had a team since the Supergiant came within whiskers of winning the title in 2017.

Captained by Australian ace, Steven Smith, the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) put together a formidable season in 2017, finishing second in the league stage before falling agonizingly short against Maharashtrian rivals, Mumbai Indians in the final. Chasing a moderate 130 to win the title, Pune looked in command with seven needed off the final five balls, and captain Smith and Manoj Tiwary at the crease.

However, they somehow failed to get over the line, suffering the heartache of a one-run defeat.

Despite the loss, it was a great effort by a side that had finished second from bottom in the previous campaign. Punekars were entertained by some of the finest cricketers in the world, including Ben Stokes, Ajinkya Rahane and the great MS Dhoni. Those were the days when fans would confidently put their money on this team in any of the IPL betting sites in India!

Unfortunately, the Supergiant’s presence in the IPL was only a brief stop-gap appearance. Along with the Gujarat Lions, they came into the league as replacements for the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals, who had been suspended for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Once Chennai and Rajasthan were cleared to return in 2018, RPS exited the league.

Despite not having an IPL team since 2017, Pune has not been totally devoid of IPL cricket. The city’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium hosted the Chennai Super Kings in 2018, following protests surrounding the Cauvery water dispute in parts of Tamil Nadu.

While Pune fans enjoyed MSD and his Chennai boys, it was not quite like having a team they could properly call their own. The great news is that they may not have to wait too much longer for the emergence of another franchise from Pune.

Last year, it was widely reported that the BCCI planned to expand the number of teams competing in the IPL from eight to ten, with Pune mentioned as one of the most likely cities to get a franchise. The Sanjiv Goenka-led RPSG Group, owners of the defunct Rising Pune Supergiant, have never hidden their desire to get back into the IPL.

Speculations over a potential expansion were further fuelled by the recent comments of former IPL Chief Operating Officer, Sundar Raman, who feels the time is right for the league to make the step up.

“I definitely think that a 10-team IPL is on the horizon in two to three years. There is a need to expand. IPL is a more mature game now than what it was in 2008,” Raman said.

Adding more teams to the tournament would certainly add to the excitement of who will win the IPL.

Someone who’s very confident about the IPL’s return to Pune is former president of the Maharashtra Cricket Association, Abhay Apte. According to Apte, the “wonderful, outstanding stadium” in the city and Punekars’ passion for the game makes the classy metropolis a very popular choice for IPL cricket.

For now, fans have to make do with watching other IPL teams, but it’s surely just a matter of time before Pune gets another shot at the prestigious event.

The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League will be staged in the United Arab Emirates from 19 September to 10 November, 2020.