Will the resurgent Puneri Paltans be the team to beat in Pro Kabaddi League 2016?
Ever since the Pro Kabaddi League came into existence as the brainchild of Marshal Sports which was co-founded by the incumbent chairman Mr. Anand Mahindra and the current director Charu Sharma, it has received a lot of viewers and the sport has spread its root into the many states of India.
Played as a ‘caravan’ format across eight cities and through 60 matches, the league has witnessed some stunning, high standards of professional Kabaddi being played.
The initial stages (2014-2015):
Puneri Paltans, a team from Pune in Maharashtra is owned by a firm called as Insurekot Limited and is coached by a seasoned Ashok Shinde, who took over from the 2014 coach Ramphal Singh. The Paltans play all their home matches at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapathi sports complex in Pune.
They have contributed a lot to the overall development of the game in India, starting a tournament in one of the many prominent schools in Maharashtra to bring out more talent into the world of competitive Kabaddi.
Paltan’s 2014: A horrendous season, winning just 2 out of 14 matches.
For the inaugural season in 2014, the team was announced along with the launching of the logo and team anthem. The team anthem stirred a lot of emotions in people, bringing out long-lived traditions and heritage via a fantastic anthem in a bid to bring out the right spirits in people.
Having the most experienced squad, a member of the team that won the Silver medal for India at the 2011 South Asian Beach Games, Wazir Singh, was named the skipper of the side, having an enormous amount of experience under his belt gained through representing the Indian national team, Rajasthan and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The 2014 team: Wazir Singh (Captain), Arabinda Khuntia, Jitesh Joshi, K Balamahendran, Mahipal Narwal, Manoj Kumar, Mostafa Noudehi (Iran national), Nitin More, Pravin Niwale, Simon Kubura (Kenya national), Sunil Lande and Waleed Hasani (Oman national).
Although the squad had some stars, the Paltans were unable to produce anything at all on the main stage, and ended the inaugural season at the bottom of the heap, with almost no positives to take home throughout the season.
The Pune side also were part of history being created as Simon Kibura, the only Kenyan national to play in the league stepped onto the mat at the ending stages of the tournament for them.
Paltan’s 2015: Almost cut, copy and paste of season 1.
With the addition of Vikas Tomar, it seemed like the Pune outfit gained some firepower, but the fans were in for a shock for the second consecutive time as the team slumped to heavy defeats at the hands of almost all teams, barring one match where they managed a stunning stalemate.
If one improvement was seen in the Pune stats, it was that they managed to salvage a draw and lose 11 matches, a slight improvement from 2014, where they received the loser’s tag in 12 matches.
Paltan’s 2016: The team to beat?
Although the team may has the underdogs tag for the 3rd edition of League due to their consecutive bottom-placed positions gained in the previous two editions, the boost to the squad they gained from the players draft may just happen to change fortunes of the Maharashtrian side.
At the end of the player draft 2015, the side strengthened its squad with the acquired services of the famed trio comprising Manjeet Chillar, Ajay Thakur, and Deepak Nivas Hudda.
They opted for the services of Chillar, who was Pro Kabaddi season two’s Most Valuable Player, star raider Ajay Thakur from the Bengaluru Bulls and all-rounder Deepak Nivas Hudda from the Telugu Titans.
With Wazir missing from the starting line-up, the captaincy duties were handed over to the newly imported Chillar, who almost captained Bengaluru Bulls to title victory in the second season.
With the likes of Somvir Sekhar and Prashanth Chavan raring to have a go amongst the opposition, the clever addition of this heavily talented pool of players has certainly put across the message to the other teams that the Pro Kabaddi League Season 3 will surely start with a resurgent Puneri Paltans as the firm favourites, ahead of the U-Mumba squad.