19 April 2015, 2:15 am: Minutes after the Match 14 of IPL 8 between KXIP and KKR played in Pune was sealed by KKR with a 4-wicket win, Ness Wadia, the co-owner of KXIP franchise, announced the change of his team’s name to Kings XI Pune. He showed up with the new logo of the team which was actually the same except for Punjab replaced by Pune.
Ness, who was accompanied by Preity Zinta and other co-owners, said to the cheering crowd, “We love you Pune. You’ve filled up the stands. This is for all of you in return. Kings XI is yours. We are yours. Hope we will have a great time together.” The news came unexpected as no sources had hinted any such activity cooking up in the KXIP hut. “The reason is people not showing up at the Mohali and Dharamsala Stadiums for the Kings’ matches.”, said Priety, co-owner of KXIP. Even Ness had earlier said that they were looking at Pune as a definite option for a venue as the turnout was high in the first two matches and didn’t hesitate blaming the Punjab and Himachal fans for their sudden decision to drag down the team to Pune saying the stands didn’t fill up.
Inside reports, however, don’t go in agreement to what owners had to say about the issue. It was found that Priety, who also works in the Bollywood, found it too hectic to travel to Mohali too often for the matches and even had to stay at Dharamsala for the night as she couldn’t find night flights back to Mumbai. So she found Pune apparently near.
It has also showed up that the owner of former team Pune Warriors India, Subroto Roy, wanted to invest again in the IPL in hope of earning a few bucks and was looking to bring back Pune. Roy had earlier pulled himself out of the IPL when match fixing scandals showed up. So it could be a win-win situation for Ness and Roy both.
Responses on the issue are emerging out. When asked about the huge turnout at Pune Stadium during Punjab’s matches, Raghav from the ground staff said, “Owners have been bluffed. It wasn’t KXIP for whom the people showed up. It was the teams facing KXIP the people were cheering for.”
“You don’t play where you belong and you talk about home?? Illogical Premier League”, says Deep Arjun Singh who used to be a die-hard fan of Punjab. “It doesn’t matter. I will still write KXIP on the board”, says Laxman, a technician from scoring staff of IPL.”
The people of Punjab feel betrayed after being disowned by Preity & Co. who had once protested against the BCCI’s decision to cancel KXIP’s contract in the IPL and it was their voice which turned out to be louder at the end saving the team. Owners say Punjabis don’t show up but they must remember we showed up when it mattered.
It is an irony when Shane Watson feels away from home being forcefully played at venues outside Rajasthan where his team Rajasthan Royals actually belongs and on contrary, Ness Wadia feels comfy at a place hundreds of miles away from home. It seems the play for money has surpassed Cricket and patronism is now defined by bucks earned from footfalls rather than the chants. Rightly said, Illogical Premier League.