The inaugural edition of the Indo International Premier Kabaddi League (IIPKL) came to a thrilling close as the Bangalore Rhinos clinched a nail-biting 42-38 win over the Pune Pride to emerge as the first ever champions of the league.
The first season saw a number of exciting performances as new stars, namely Amarjeeth Singh and Jitender Yadav emerged as the best debutants from the tournament. Former Pro Kabaddi stars namely Sunil Jaipal and Vikash Khatri proved their worth as experienced players from the past.
Bangalore Rhinos received immense support from the home crowd as they scripted a comeback in the second half with consistent performances by Arumugam and Vishal that ensured that they held an upper hand towards the end of the summit clash.
Vishal scored 11 raid points in the final that led the Rhinos to the title as Vipin Malik lifted the prestigious IIPKL trophy at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore. Chennai Challengers led by Sunil K Kumar stood in third place as they beat Sunil Jaipal's Diler Delhi (37-36) in the third-place match.
At the end of an exciting season of the IIPKL, let us have a look at the best playing seven of the tournament:
Right Corner: Sandeep Kharb (Pune Pride)
Sandeep Kharb, who was a part of Patna Pirates in the starting seasons of Pro Kabaddi performed well with Pune Pride in the inaugural season of IIPKL. This right corner defender scored 41 tackle points in 12 matches at an average of 3.41 tackle points. He was a force to reckon with his brilliant ankle holds and back holds as he performed consistently and supported Jitender Yadav in the left corner.
Left Corner: Jitender Yadav (Pune Pride)
Jithender Yadav had the one of the memorable debut in the IIPKL as a left corner defender of Pune Pride. He played consistently and took the defensive charge on his own. He scored 53 tackle points in 12 matches with an avreage of 4.42 tackle points. This ankle hold specialist was awarded as the best defender of the tournament for his efforts.
Right Cover: Vikash Khatri (Haryana Heroes)
Vikash Khatri, who was a part of Puneri Paltan in Season five and season of the Pro Kabaddi League was named the captain of Haryana Heroes in this season. Known for his raiding skills in recent past, Vikas Khatri emerged as a fine defender in the tournament, providing some decent support to the corner defenders of the Haryana Heroes. He was brilliant with his blocks and dashes as he scored 39 tackle points in 10 matches averaging 3.9 tackle points.
Left Cover: Dhanaraj B (Chennai Challengers)
Dhanaraj B from Chennai Challengers was the team's defensive lynchpin who led Chennai to a third place finish. His waist holds, which he executed with perfection and quick dashes emerged as his trademark that fetched him 27 tackle points in 12 matches as he finished as the league's best right cover defender.
Right In: Amarjeeth Singh (Pune Pride)
Amarjeeth Singh was one of the finds of the tournament who played as the lead raider for Pune Pride. This left raider is an Indian Army Kabaddi player who had a phenomenal outing on the raiding front as he led the team's offensive charge single-handedly. Amarjeeth Singh scored 116 raid points in 12 matches at an average of 9.67 raid points. In an encounter against Pondicherry Predators, Amarjeeth Singh scored 23 raid points, the second most points in a game from the opening season.
Left In: Vishal (Bangalore Rhinos)
While Arumugam and Vipin Malik were having a brilliant season, Vishal failed to show up in the initial matches for Bangalore Rhinos. However, just as Bangalore Rhinos lost a few games, Vishal emerged as one of the mature raiders who executed brilliant super raids and led Bangalore to make decent comebacks.
In the semi-final clash against Diler Delhi, Vishal scored 24 raid points with his escapes and dubkis which allowed Bangalore to register a lop-sided win (63-33). Owing to his fine show during the season, Vishal was adjudged as the best raider of the season with 82 raid points.
Center: Sunil Jaipal (Diler Delhi)
This veteran from Pro Kabaddi had a brilliant season with Diler Delhi during the IIPKL. Named as the captain, Sunil led from the front in the raiding unit, scoring 'Super 10s' consecutively. His running hand touches were a feast to the eyes as he raided with sequential shuffle across the court. He became an integral part of the defense as well with 15 tackle points. He scored 131 raid points in 12 matches averaging 10.92 raid points. Despite being positioned in fourth place, Diler Delhi found a gem in Sunil Jaipal as he became the most valuable player of the league and the best all-rounder of the inaugural season of the league.
Best Playing 7 of IIPKL Season 1
Sandeep Kharb (Right Corner), Amarjeeth Singh (Right In), Vikash Khatri (Right Cover), Sunil Jaipal (C) (Center), Dhanaraj B (Left Cover), Vishal (Left In) and Jithender Yadav (Left Corner)
Manoj (Bangalore Rhinos), Rashid Shaikh (Mumbai Che Raje), R Suresh Kumar (Pondicherry Predators), Satnam Singh (Haryana Heroes) and Arumugam (Bangalore Rhinos)