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The matches will now be played in Pune, the home ground of the erstwhile franchise Rising Pune Supergiant, for which M S Dhoni played for the past two years.
DMK leader M K Stalin and PMK founder S Ramadoss were the first to demand that the IPL matches be moved out till the Cauvery crisis was resolved. Actor-politician Rajinikanth added fuel to the protest when he asked IPL spectators to wear black badges. On Tuesday, groups clashed with policemen and cricket fans on the streets. Some managed to get into the stadium and unfurl banners; one of them hurled a shoe into the ground. Police arrested 780 protesters.
“The matches had to be shifted out as the city police said they would be unable to provide security in this situation,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said in Jaipur on Wednesday. CSK’s first match in Pune will be against Rajasthan Royals on April 20.
Visakhapatnam was also a contender because of its proximity to Chennai. But, according to Shukla, “CSK are not averse to playing in Pune”.
The fact that Pune has connecting flights with all the cities that are hosting matches also played a big role in it getting the nod.
The CSK management expressed sadness at the matches moving out of Chennai. “It’s a disappointing day for us because we did our best to prepare MA Chidambaram Stadium for the event. We don’t have a say about the choice of the alternative venue. BCCI wanted us to play in Pune and we will do that,” CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan told TOI.
The CEO said captain Dhoni has taken it in his stride. “Dhoni never makes a fuss,” he said. The CSK management did its best to keep the matches in Chennai and the CEO had a meeting with the top brass of the city police in the afternoon. The police told the franchise to reschedule the matches, which CSK said was logistically impossible.
On Monday, the city police deployed about 4,000 personnel to keep the situation under control during CSK’s first home game against Kolkata Knight Riders. But with the protests gaining momentum and paralysing the city for a few hours, the state government and the city police don’t want to take chances. “The police and the organisers can take care of the situation in and around the stadium. But if the protests go beyond that, it would be difficult to keep things under control,” a source said.
Though it’s not an ideal situation for the CSK team because they had prepared for IPL with Chepauk conditions in mind, financially the biggest loser in the process will be the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and the state government. While the host association is paid Rs 60 lakh per match for hosting the matches, the state government gets 39% of the cost of each ticket (25% entertainment tax and 14% state GST).