IPL 11: Pune, Guwahati on Royals radar

With the principal owner Manoj Badale visiting India last week, the Rajasthan Royals top bosses went to Jaipur, Indore, Pune and Guwahati to look at the present condition of the stadiums.

Rajasthan Royals players celebrate after taking the wicket of Royal Challengers Bangalore opener Chris Gayle during their Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket eliminator match at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on May 20, 2015.   -  Vivek Bendre

The Indian Premier League (IPL) may still be sixth months away, but the ‘comeback’ franchises have already started taking stock of things.

While Rajasthan Royals has already started visiting venues to pick its home base for the season, Chennai Super Kings is building the ground slowly and steadily.

With the principal owner Manoj Badale visiting India last week, the Royals top bosses went to Jaipur, Indore, Pune and Guwahati to look at the present condition of the stadiums.

While on paper Jaipur still remains the home base for Royals, Sportstar has reliably learnt that the franchise is also keeping its options open. This decision has got something to do with the present status of Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), which is suspended by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

With the RCA caught in in-fighting — there are chances that the standoff would continue for a while — and to ensure that it does not affect their preparation, the franchise officials have kept cities like Pune and Indore as the options. With some of the Royals bosses having roots in the Northeast, they have even visited the newly-inaugurated Barsapara Stadium to test the waters. “When India hosted Australia in Guwahati last week, the fan support was tremendous. The visit to the stadium was to find out whether it will be good to host games. These are just preliminary recce,” a highly-placed team source told Sportstar.

It is learnt that the officials are happy with the maintenance of the Gahunje Stadium in Pune as well. If Jaipur is finally ruled out, the chances of the franchise settling for the Maharashtra city are high.

Before his visit to Jaipur, Badale had told Sportstar that their intention has ‘always been to play in Jaipur’. “We have always made it clear that Jaipur is our home ground, but equally we have had to play almost as many ‘home’ games at other venues. Having been out (of Jaipur) for two years, we are simply keen to play — irrespective of venue,” Badale had said.

A clearer picture will, however, be available after a BCCI delegation meets the franchise to discuss its plan for the season. With M. V. Sridhar resigning as the Board’s General Manager of Cricket Operations, it is learnt, the process has halted. “We are yet to hear from the Board about anything,” a top Royals official said. It is a similar story for the Super Kings as well, which is also waiting for the meeting with the Board delegation to know about the road ahead.

Much before the action shifts to slam bang cricket, the two franchises, which are coming out of suspension, have already hit the road.

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