Patna Pirates: Road to Star Sports Pro Kabaddi Season 4 final
How reigning champions Patna Pirates qualified for the PKL Season 4 final
When Star Sports Pro Kabaddi season 4 began, the Patna Pirates were intent on repeating their season three heroics. They had every reason to believe so. The Pirates did some shrewd business at the auction, assembling a set of warrior like defenders, in a bid to protect their crown. It’s paid handsome dividends. New signings Fazel Atrachali, Bajirao Hodage and captain, Dharmaraj Cheralathan have shined throughout the 14 league matches and the semis.
While Bajirao and Dharmaraj have been alert always. It’s Fazel, though, who’s shown absolutely no mercy to his opponents. Generally, when a defender dives in for a tackle, one expects his mates to join him in an instant. But the Iranian captain needs no one. Numerous times, he single headedly pinned down opposition raiders. His tackles are like rap music in motion – fast, powerful, menacing and impactful.
The men in green enter the final having lost just four matches – the joint least among all eight teams. They started off their campaign in ruthless fashion – winning their first five matches. Pardeep Narwal and company set the standards, which some believed were unmatchable, and rightly so. But come second week of July, Patna suffered two back to back defeats and that too at home.
First a record thumping loss (15-33) against the unfancied Dabang Delhi. This was followed up by another loss against fellow finalists, Jaipur Pink Panthers. Suddenly the Pirates no more seemed invincible. The others began to sense an opening at this point.
But there’s too much quality in this Patna side and for anyone to think they would crumble so easily- were wishing beyond their means. They returned with a vengeance, ripping apart Bengaluru Bulls, U Mumba and Bengal Warriors in quick succession, putting to bed any talks of complacency hovering over this Patna side.
Pardeep – the lone ranger?
Patna, at times, seem as if they rely solely on Pardeep Narwal in attack, but when you have arguably the best raider in the world, why look anywhere else for inspiration? The 19-year-old has picked up a stupendous 115 raid points, almost mirroring his season 3 performance, when he picked up 116. In a league where consistency is the need of the hour, very few can match the relentless pursuit seen in the former Bengaluru Bulls youngster.
But, by no means, Patna could have achieved the heights they have this season all alone. He has fellow raiders, Rajesh Mondal and Surjeet Singh for support. When the 19-year-old went silent for three games, it was these two men who bailed Patna out. They’ve picked up 55 and 31 raid points respectively. Mondal thrives on pressure. Making decision making that much easier for captain, Cheralathan during trying times. He knows if he sends Rajesh to the wolves, he’ll come out unscathed on 9/10 occasions. Any captain would take that accuracy rate.
Indian international Surjeet Singh, on the other hand, has quietly gone about his business. At times when the game turns too frenetic for his team’s liking, the raider slows the tempo down in an instant. More importantly, he’s managed to pick up bonus points on regular basis and keeps the scorecard ticking.
Patna’s bench has been equally responsive when they’re thrown into the fire. The Iranian duo of Abolfazel and Hadi Oshtorak exemplify the depth in this squad. The former, has delivered when his team needs him during those crucial do or die raids.
Hadi has been tremendous in defence, he truly showed what he is capable of in the semi-finals against Puneri Paltan. Their captain found it difficult to cope with the frenetic pace of the match and he brought on Hadi and moved to the bench, and he repaid the faith showin in him with some match winning super tackles.
But come Sunday, when Patna meet Jaipur, the season three champions will be weary of the threat that looms large. The Pirates lost both their league matches to Jaipur, something they’d have to shrug off but learn from when they battle them once again on the mat.
The final is scheduled to take place at 9 pm on 31st July, 2016 at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.