2nd September, 2014
For the past month, the entire country was hit with the kabaddi fever. Very rarely does a sport other than cricket, capture the imagination of such a large number of Indians at a go. Yes, when the FIFA world cup is on, everyone becomes a football fanatic! But the Pro Kabaddi League has done more good to the society than it could have ever imagined. One of most fascinating Indian sports, kabaddi was brought to the limelight over the past month.
Kabaddi is one of the few games that require ‘zero equipment’. Here is the tournament review of the Pro Kabaddi League.
The group stages kicked off in Mumbai on 26th July with a host of celebrities attending the event. U Mumba, the home team grabbed the first win with a 45-31 victory over Jaipur Pink Panthers. On the same day, Bengaluru Bulls had a flying start to their league with a 47-28 win over Dabang Delhi.
The league travelled across several cities. Starting off at Mumbai, the teams played matches at Kolkota, Delhi, Pune, Vizag, Jaipur and finally finishing the league stage at Bengaluru. The top four teams from the league would qualify for the knockout stage, and the race was on since the first game!
After their initial loss, Jaipur went on a winning-spree with eight consecutive victories. This run virtually guaranteed the Panthers a spot in the play-offs. U Mumba was another front-runner after the initial stages. The Mumbai team was unbeaten after eight games which included six wins and two draws. Their impressive forms made them favourites to lift the trophy.
Bengaluru Bulls had the advantage of having the last leg played at their home stadium. The Bulls won their final two games by just one point to qualify for the semi-finals. They beat Telugu Titans 27-26 and league leaders Jaipur Pink Panthers 30-29 to clinch the play-off spot in dramatic fashion.
The last play-off spot was clinched by the Patna Pirates. Led by Indian national team captain Rakesh Kumar, Patna looked a strong force throughout the league stage.
The most disappointing team performance was by the Puneri Paltans. Although, their captain and star raider, Wazir Singh, was impressive throughout, the Pune team’s defence was almost non-existent! With just two wins from 14 games, Pune found themselves at the bottom of the table. The Bengal Warriors, Dabang Delhi and Telugu Titans picked up four, five and six wins respectively, but all fell short of making it to the play-offs. Here is how the table looked at the end of the league stage.
The stage was set for the play-offs back in Mumbai. Table toppers Jaipur were placed against fourth placed Patna Pirates. The Panthers were clear favourites to reach the finals and the team did not disappoint. The ruthless form of the league stage was once again seen in the encounter against the Pirates. Jaipur held a 20-7 lead at the break and they were in no mood to go easy. Patna Pirates were destroyed 38-18 as Jaipur booked their place in the final of the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League.
The second semi-final was between home side U Mumba and high-flying Bengaluru Bulls. The Bulls were on a run and the match was always going to be too close to call. Mumbai had the upper hand throughout the game, leading for almost entirety of it and going into the break with a 15-9 lead. The Mumbai defence stood their ground and kept the Bengaluru raiders at bay. Despite handing two LONA points at the end, Mumbai managed to keep a four-point lead to win the encounter 27-23.
In the third place game, Patna Pirates defeated the demoralised Bengaluru Bulls 29-22 to seal the third spot. But the real focus was on the final between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers.
There was a lot at stake than the trophy at the end. Both teams had the opportunity to enter the history books as the first winner of India’s very own Pro Kabaddi League.
The nerves were clear at the start, as both teams were cautious in their approach. However, tactical mistakes from Mumbai gave the Panthers a 13-7 lead early on. Once the lead was grabbed the Panthers, they seemed determined to not lose it. The lead gradually increased as Panthers saw them edging towards the finishing line. Jaipur Pink Panthers kept the momentum going and laid claim to the trophy after winning the match 35-24.
The Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League has revolutionised the sport in the country. With millions of viewers, watching from home as well as thousands of supporters at stadiums, the league has undoubtedly achieved success in promoting the sport in the country. The Pro Kabaddi League is proof that Indian sports have a major role to play in our modern society. In a time when the country has faced criticism for corruption and politics in sport, initiatives such as the Pro Kabaddi League will be celebrated as a victory and hopefully lead on to further development of sports in India.