Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4: Barring his mind freeze moments, Jang Kun Lee is the Houdini of this season
How often have we seen in sports, athletes parachute down from the perch of glory and blow it all in a moment of madness. As beautiful as it is for a writer to romanticize such moments, it is equally painful for a sportsman to experience it. And pain, it was, that screamed out loud from the innocent appearing face of Jang Kun Lee in the dying seconds of Bengal Warriors’ match against Telugu Titans as he sat looking inconsolable and distraught after losing a golden opportunity of registering a win over the Titans. That last minute gaffe should not, however, take anything away from the heights of brilliance Lee took Kabaddi to in the 40 minutes before it.
Although it has come too late in the tournament, Bengal Warriors have at last looked threatening in the second leg, even if in patches. The major share of the credit for it goes to the South Korean, Jang Kun Lee. One of the most popular foreign names in the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League, Jang Kun Lee was the one man Warriors were looking forward to give their title hope a boost at the beginning of the season.
As long as Jang Kun Lee was there, Bengal looked like a team who could run to the top four, even if they didn’t begin on the brightest of the notes. However, that was not to be. Lee broke down after the first couple of matches. Bengal’s campaign slipped into straits from where they could not see ground as their defence buckled under pressure and raiding department in Lee’s absence looked as sturdy as clapboard house.
With just one win in the first seven games, Bengal Warriors were down and out at the halfway mark and had been reduced to the whipping boys of the tournament. Teams had started looking to the fixture against them as one where they could get easy five points if not seven. That proved to be their folly though. Jang Kun Lee was slow to begin with after making his comeback from the lay off but didn’t waste a lot of time in getting into the thick of the things.
Against Puneri Paltan, the raider got his team 5 points but showed a bit of inexperience as he called for a review for a raid point even before the referee had blown the whistle. A team losing its review in the first five minutes of the game in Kabaddi often puts a bit of a psychological pressure on them. Although Lee won his team several crucial points in the match, that moment of haste could have been avoided.
The kind of Kabaddi the Korean has put on display since that game would make the best of the exponents of the game in the country proud. In his next three appearances on the mat, the fleet-footed Lee has weaved magic with his athleticism to get 33 points in three games. He left the likes of Rann Singh, Manjeet Chhillar and Sandeep Dhull chasing shadows as he leapt, somersaulted and jumped back over the centre line to leave the viewers’ jaw drop in awe.
Such has been the magic of Lee that every time he has come on to take a raid, the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indoor Stadium has reverberated with his name. It’s not just the raiding of Lee that has won hearts but the Korean’s involvement in the game that will make him any coach’s favorite.
However, it was that desire to be everything on the mat that proved to be Lee’s undoing on Monday evening. With Bengal Warriors one point ahead when Titans skipper Chaudhari came for the final raid of the match, all the Warriors needed to do was to ensure it was an empty raid. In those nerve wrecking moments when the order of the day was to keep a calm head, the excitement got the better of Jang Kun Lee and he went for a tackle that didn’t exist on a retreating Chaudhari.
In the larger context, the draw doesn’t do a lot of damage to the Warriors’ already sunken ship in the 4th season, and it will be only just to remember the star raider for his heroics and lap it up as long as the magician puts a show.