I am a hard core, true blue, dyed in the wool Poona-ite. I was born in Poona (Jehangir Hospital, in case you’re taking notes), studied here (Vincent’s, SSPMS, Fergusson) and when I die, water levels in the Mula-Mutha permitting , my ashes will be immersed here. In a word, I LOVE the place to bits – so you’ll excuse my WTF question of the day
“In which Universe can you call Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Ashish Nehra and Mithun Minhas POONA WARRIORS??”
I have never been a great fan of the IPL, which has rightly been described as `tullebaazi’ – whatever interest I had dwindled completely when they decided to drop the Pakistani players. You’ll admit that Pakistan has some of the most exciting limited over players, and it was good to watch them donning local colours. Besides, Sohail Tanveer and Virender Sehwag exchanging bear hugs and high fives did more for Aman ki Asha than SM Krishna and Hina Rabanni Khar ever could! Ok, admittedly not as much as Veena Malik and Ashmit Patel, but let’s leave that for another day..
Last season, I thought that with Poona also fielding a team, maybe I should stand up and be counted as a supporter. But surprise surprise, who buys the Poona franchise? Not Rahul Bajaj, not Anu Aga, not even Cyrus Poonawala, but Subrata `Sahara’ Roy from Lucknow! Who captains it? Not Hrishikesh Kanitkar (the ONLY cricketer of note that Poona has produced of late, he now leads Rajasthan to victory in the Ranji trophy, which tells you!), but Yuvraj Singh from Chandigarh! Who’s the coach? Not Chandu Borde, but Geoff Marsh from Australia! To my horror, not only is there no Poona-ite in the team, there’s not even a token Marathi manoos! Where are the Thackerays when they’re needed the most??
The home team’s gonna have its own stadium off the Poona-Bombay Expressway. No two guesses as to what they’re gonna name it – EVERYTHING in these parts, from a sabzi market to an airport HAS to be named after the great Chatrapati Shivaji! I mean anyone visiting Bombay knows this – you alight at the Chatrapati Shivaji Airport, make your way to the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, winding your way through Shivaji Park – well, you get the idea.. But complete sacrilege is committed, and the stadium is named the `Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium’!
Maharashtra, wrote Shobha De in one of her more acerbic pieces, has three heroes – Shivaji, Shambaji and Pao Bhaji! Now it has a fourth – Subrata Roy!
To get back to the point, yesterday Poona was playing Bombay at home, and I was offered a pass. Thanks, but no thanks, I said, having no plans to even watch it on my Home Theater. Surfing channels, I was about to settle for a Govinda movie in High Def, when the delectable Nagma broke the news to him that the latex had ruptured - in pure Bollywoodese “Main maa ban-ne wali hun!” So I reluctantly switched from Nagma to her one time beau Sourav Ganguly who was clearly having a TERRIBLE hair day at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium (I know I’m rubbing it in, but Poona waalon – sharam karo yaar!)
Poona has 38% Marathi speaking people – a statistic I find quite endearing. This roughly translates into 4 Marathi manoos being part of the Poona team. Sadly, Marathi may make you climb up walls on our FM channels, it may drive you nuts if you try something as innocuous as paying your Property Tax – but the one place it will be conspicuous by its absence will be in the Poona Warriors dressing room!
They (mind you, it is `they’ and not `we’) lost to Bombay by a single run. That’s because Mithun Manhas, a cut surd who otherwise plays for Delhi, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a baniya from Kanpur couldn’t follow the cheering, because it was in full throated and gutsy MARATHI!!!