Pune Warriors on a replacement-finding spree

Yuvraj Singh...Pune Warriors will miss him in this IPL.-VIVEK BENDRE

If Pune's dramatic exit minutes before the auction pushed you to the seat's edge, then the subsequent return made you kick yourself for doing that. But, hey, stop complaining… this is feel-good stuff at its very best.

Do you hear the melancholic strains of 16 violins playing in the background? Do you see silhouetted figures of a couple with clasped hands running into the sunset (in slow-mo of course)?

Love, respect, betrayal, and the ‘happy ending'. Forget whether this year's IPL will turn out to be a summer blockbuster, the ‘I hate you — I love you' saga between Pune Warriors and the BCCI already registered a bumper opening.

If Pune dramatic exit minutes before the auction pushed you to the seat's edge, then the subsequent return made you kick yourself for doing that. But, hey, stop complaining… this is feel-good stuff at its very best.

And since obstacles are a must in any plot, Pune has a few more troubles after its rapprochement. After injuries to Mitchell Marsh, James Hopes, and most recently Graeme Smith, the team has been on a replacement-finding spree. This is at a time when the team is already grappling with the loss of its talisman, Yuvraj Singh.

And, yes, the script demands that such odds be surmounted. Marlon Samuels, Michael Clarke, Luke Wright, and Tamim Iqbal are fresh additions to the cast and the good days don't seem far now. Care to croon Hum Honge Kamyaab, anyone?

Meeting Steve Rixon

Having never met Steve Rixon before, a recent rendezvous with him turns out to be a pleasant surprise. The former Kiwi coach, who is presently fielding coach with the Chennai Super Kings, is most courteous: even his handshake isn't quite as oppressive.

That doesn't diminish a fine mix of humour — often punctuated by unbridled laughter — and candidness. When asked if he didn't cop any flak for coaching the Trans-Tasman rivals, and very successfully at that. “I actually enjoyed getting that kind of flak. Never minded it one bit,” he smiles.

He also holds nothing back while speaking of his acrimonious stint at Surrey. “If I had my way, six of those players in the first side wouldn't have been playing. The people there obviously had other ideas so I quit the job. If you are employed for something, then let him do his job.”

Steve Rixon, fielding coach with the Chennai Super Kings, is quite candid.-S.S. KUMAR

As someone who led New South Wales to many trophies, what was his relationship with Steve Waugh. “Steve and I were pretty similar in many respects. He was away on International duty most of the times and couldn't play very often for NSW. But I never had any problems with him and I don't think he had any issues with me too.”

Tweeting away

With the IPL set to kick off, its stakeholders, from the players to team owners and television anchors, have taken centrestage in the cyberspace — Twitter, to be more precise. And if you are rubbing your hands in glee, expecting juicy insider tales, chuck the thought. Most of the tweets are no more than dedicated promotional exercises. Consider this re-tweet by Siddharth Mallya: RT @rohitbarker: @sidharthamallya On Air with me right now on Indigo 91.9FM. Tune in to hear what he has to say about RCB and more. Or this one by AB de Villiers about his new boots: How cool is this?? Gonna look great with the red #RCB outfit. My new@puma boots https://yfrog.com/ny63qtgj. There are some witty tweets too: this one, courtesy Eoin Morgan: Doing a shoot for @KKRiders today.@rtendo27 has been in make-up for 20 mins #nightmare.

The standard ‘IPL participant' tweet, however, is something like what Faf du Plessis has written on his page: Nice to wake up this morning as the 20 20 champs...now for next challenge..ipl 5..looking forward to it. #chennaisuperkings#lions.

Multitasking

For some of the old guards — Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, and Adam Gilchrist — donning two hats is going to be a way of life in this year's IPL. All the three of them have been assigned with tasks of captaining as well as mentoring their respective sides, Rajasthan Royals, Pune Warriors, and Kings XI Punjab.

Whether the promotion is recognition of their pedigree and experience or a mere cost-cutting measure is uncertain (the latter doesn't seem a very smart idea in any case). What's, however, clear is that these players would certainly look to give the younger lot a run for their money.

Compiled by Arun Venugopal