Kabaddi Adda

Pro Kabaddi League - the story so far of the league and its champions

The PRO KABADDI LEAGUE has grown leaps and bound since its inception.Let us look back at the journey of our beloved PKL , how it all unfolded and Produced the champion so far.

The PRO KABADDI LEAGUE has grown leaps and bound since its inception. Let us look back at the journey of our beloved PKL, how it all unfolded and produced champions so far.
 
The year 2008 was a monumental year in the history of sports in India. The sports industry saw a revolution that took up as a storm and inspired others to follow. IPL 2008, the first season, was a breakaway that the cricket-crazy nation might not have needed. But it opened the door for others, showed them a pathway to promote the sport, improve the existing infrastructure and ecosystem, and in return make money out of it.
 
Many other sports followed the trend, and one of the most successful being The Pro Kabaddi league that started in 2014. It was a ground-breaking initiative by Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd and consequently Star India Pvt. Ltd. 
 
Ever since its inception in 2014, the League has revolutionized the sport of kabaddi. Its extraordinary innovations in the rules and how the game is perceived by the audience, making it a desirable and exciting sport for players and fans alike to watch and be a part of. 

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Narwal in action

The inaugural season saw 8 teams fighting it out for the first league title and since then, the league has witnessed tremendous growth to over 350 million viewers over past seasons. The geographical impact has been huge players from different backgrounds and cities are coming up due to the outreach of PKL in the past seasons. Young players are being backed and trained up more, providing them a platform to make their career as professionals. In the 7 seasons that went by,  the league has seen 5 different winners on the podium.


Season - 1 Winners Jaipur Pink Panthers
 
The inaugural season saw 8 teams fighting it out in a league cum playoffs format. A total of 60 matches were played, out of which 56 were in the league phase. And the top four teams qualify for the semi-finals stage.
 
Jaipur Pink Panthers were the most consistent and successful team with 10 wins from 14 league stage matches. The team was led by the highly experienced Navneet Gautam, an Arjuna awardee and two-time gold medal winner in the Asian Games. Under the guidance of Gautam and the tutelage of head coach Kasinathan Baskaran, the Abhishek Bachchan-owned franchise they were in complete control in their semi-final against Patna Pirates and won the game with a 38-18 scoreline.

They met U Mumba in the finals but, there was no stopping them as they won the game by 35-24 points and got crowned the first PKL champions. Raider Maninder Singh was in inspiring form for the Panthers, finishing the season with 130 points, and one of the top 3 raiders of the inaugural edition. Jasvir Singh also played a major role, starring with 106 raid points, while Rohit Rana held the fort in defense with 37 successful tackles.
 
U Mumba eventually lost in the final but was on par with JPP throughout the league, as they lost just three matches before their loss in the final. Led commendably by Arjuna awardee and Season 1 MVP Anup Kumar (155 raid points in the season), U Mumba was one of the most exciting teams to watch with young charges like Shabeer Bappu (66 raid points) and Rishank Devadiga (64 raid points) also making waves. Meanwhile, Surender Nada was their best defender, ending the season second on the leaderboard for successful tackles (47).
 
Patna Pirates, the only team presently to make the semis in all four seasons of Pro Kabaddi, ended the first edition in the third spot after beating Bengaluru Bulls 29-22 in the third-place playoff.
 
 


Season - 2 Winners U Mumba
 
After their heartbreaking loss in the first season, they came back with a vengeance. U Mumba was again the most consisting team in the league stage with 12 wins out of 14 games. They went against Patna Pirates in the semi-final. U Mumba logged their biggest win of the season against The Patna Pirates (35-18) and went into the final to face the Bengaluru Bulls. Bengaluru Bulls finished 3rd in the league stage and went against Telugu Titans in the semis. The match was no less than a thriller movie.

Both teams started on a cautious note with both sharing as many points. The first session was dominated by both the defenses. For U Mumba it was Mohit Chhillar (42 tackle points) who gave Ajay Thakur (79 raid points) a torrid time. He had him four times which kept him without a point to his name.
 
The final was a mouth-watering tie with teams matching each other in raids points. Manjeet tried his best to shore up his team’s chances but, it came too late. Shabeer Bapu Sharfudeen turned out to be the superhero. He came up with a three-point super raid that brought back Mumba in the game. U Mumba with more all-out and higher tackle points won the game by 6 points in the end.  
 
Kashiling Adake lit up Season 2 of Pro Kabaddi, unlike any other raider in the tournament finishing the tournament with 114 points. The captain of Dabang Delhi, Ravinder Singh Pahal held the Delhi defense together with his timely tackles and brilliant strategy. He scored 60 tackle points. Although he wasn’t able to push his team into the playoffs, he made his presence felt on the court during the games. Manjeet Chillar from BB was awarded the MVP of the tournament as he scored 107 raid points in the season. His never-say-die attitude was rubbed on his fellow player during their fantastic run into the finals.
 


Season 3, 4, 5 - Winners Patna Pirates
 
Patna Pirates were a consistent team, consecutively making it to the semi-final stage in their previous season. Now wanted to take the next step by reaching the finals. They were hoping to be 3rd time lucky and, they were indeed.
 
U Mumba and Patna Pirates shared the top 2 spots during the league stages. Both teams won their respective semi-finals with a big margin. The final was a much cagy affair, U Mumba topping the league stage and reaching the 2nd final were the favorites to win.  Patna Pirates had nothing to lose after reaching their first finals in their history of PKL.
 
Both teams had star players in the lineup, Anup Kumar, Rishank Devadiga and Mohit Chhillar led U Mumba, hoping to get his hands on the title again. Sandeep and Pardeep Narwal held the fort for Patna Pirates with Rohit Kumar backing them up. The match was an intense battle between both offense and defense. The teams were all tied up in every aspect raid points, tackle points, all-out points. The score was deadlock at 28-28 all and went right down to the wire. Anup failed in his raid attempt and, Sandeep and Pardeep Narwal both grabbed the chance to score on their raid to finish the game as Patna won their first title.
 
Rishank Devadiga from U Mumba was awarded the top raider award for his match-winning performances as he scored 106 raid points. Rohit Kumar (102 raid points) and Sandeep Narwal (55 tackle Points) from Patna Pirates were both consistent throughout the season. They won the MVP and Top defender awards respectively.
 
The following season Patna Pirates became the first team ever to defend their title as they beat the season 1 winners Jaipur Pink Panthers in the final. Pradeep Narwal was awarded the MVP of the season as he score 131 raid points in the season. The surprise package of the season Puneri Platan won the 3rd place playoff led by the Fazel Atrachali from Iran and became the first foreigner to win this prestigious award. He scored 52 tackle points the most in the season. Rahul Chaudhari was awarded the top raider of the season for his 146 raid points.
 
The fifth edition of Pro Kabaddi was the longest in its history. The league had 138 matches, played over 13 weeks across 11 states. New teams got added to the league from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.
 
Several records got broken this season -
Most Raid Points in a season
Most Tackle Points in a season
Most points in a single match
Most consecutive High 5s in a season
 
The teams were split into two zones, with each zone having six teams based on their geographical proximity. Each team played 15 intra-zonal matches and then 7 inter-zonal matches. The top 3 teams from each zone get qualified for the playoffs round.
 
Gujarat Fortune Giants and Bengal Warriors topped their groups to make their way into the qualifiers. Patna Pirates finished second in their pool to take the longer eliminator route.
 
Against all odds, Patna reached their 3rd consecutive finals, to set up a clash against their nemesis in Gujarat Fortune Giants. GFG, who beat Patna Pirates twice in their inter zonal pool matches, had a slight advantage over Patna Pirates but, PP had the experience of being the consecutive champions.
 
GFG started strongly with Monu Goyat and Sachin putting in raids while Patna was coming to terms with the match speed. Gujrat leads the game at the midpoint of the first half with a scoreline of 15 - 10.
GFG could have run away ahead with the lead but, Pradeep Narwal soon sprung back into action. Patna headed into the break with a 3 point lead of their own. The 2nd half was a completely different story Patna Pirates led by Pradeep, came back with a plan and stopped GFG from ever coming close again. In the end, the match looked like a one-sided affair as PP with a big margin of 17 points.
 
Pradeep Narwal was the major contributor to his team. He scored a monstrous 369 raid points. Not only winning the MVP award for the 2nd time running but also winning the best raider award in the 5 th season of the Pro Kabaddi league. Surendar nada from the Haryana Steelers won the best defender award as he scored 80 tackle points.
 
Season 6 - winners Bengaluru Bulls
 
The sixth edition of Pro Kabaddi saw several records tumbling. Five raiders went past the 200-raid point mark for the first time in league history, while three defenders scored over 80 tackle points.
 
The season continued with the same number of teams 12, from the previous edition. The zonal format saw U Mumba, Gujrat Fortune Giants, and Delhi Dabang get qualified from POOL A. Bengaluru Bulls, Bengal Warriors and UP Yoddha made there was from POOL B.
 
GFG and BB both topped their respective POOL and made their way into qualifier 1. 
BB Pawan Sehrawat and Mahinder Singh Bulldozed their way past the GFG offense and defense, as they could not contain the duo and lost by 12 points. GFG won their next qualifier against UP Yoddha to set up the revenge match in the finals against BB. The final was a much better-contested game as GFG was cautious of the BB's offensive power. GFG started strongly, Sachin lead them to a first-half lead over BB much to the surprise of their opponents.
 
After a slow first half, BB finally woke up. The man in form, Pawan Sehrawat finally, came out of his first-half shell to turn the game on his head. He scored a match-high 22 raid points to inflict a second defeat on the hands of GFG.
 
Pawan Sehrawat for, his match-winning performances over the season won the MVP award. He scored a season-high 271 raid points. Pradeep narwal was once again in top form as he won the raider of the season but could not inspire his team for the  4th straight title win. He came in second in the raid points chart as he scored 233 raid points. Nitesh Kumar became the first man to score 100 tackle points in a single season which helped him gab the top defender of the season.
 


Season 7 - Winners Bengal Warriors
 
Season 7 was the biggest of all. With the league now being recognized as the most followed league in India after the obvious, cricket. Pro Kabbadi now was the most established league that people now waited with bated breath to see.
 
An even balance between raiders and defenders saw tough competition unfold in Season 7, with three raiders crossing the 300-raid point mark for the first time in a single season. While U Mumba made a record-equalling fifth playoffs appearance. The zonal system present there in the previous seasons of PKL was removed, and each team played against all the other teams twice.
 
The surprise package of the season Delhi Dabang, topped the charts to qualify for the semi-finals, Bengal Warriors following them closely in the 2 nd spot. The rest of the 4 teams went into the eliminator to play for the place in the semi-final. Bengaluru Bulls and U Mumba pushed aside UP Yoddha and Haryana Steelers in the Eliminators to face off with the big two. But DD and BW were a step too far for the Bengaluru Bulls and U Mumba as they were sent back home packing.
 
The most deserving teams were finally here at the last huddle to fight for the coveted title. Both teams were fighting off for the first league title as there was plenty of tension in the air. The first half was a cagey affair both the teams fought for every inch of the mat and were identical to each other. The half ended with a scoreline of 17-17 all. Bot defense and the offense struggled to break free of their counterparts.
 
The 2nd half began similarly. The teams were cautious and tied till the all-important all-out was inflicted by the Bengal Warriors. From there on out, they managed their lead to perfection. Naveen Kumar played a crucial role for his team as he scored 18 raid points but failed to get past the finishing line with his team as the Bengal Warriors came out as the better unit overall with the final scoreline of 34 - 39 in their favor.
 
Naveen Kumar, got away with the MVP award for the season as he bagged more than 300 raid points. Pawan Sherawat continued his form from the last season as he walked with the raider of the season for his season-high 346 raid points. Fazel Atrachali from U Mumba won his 2nd defender of the season with yet another individual solid season where he scored 82 tackle points.
 
With the covid interrupted season 8 is finally on the horizon. It will be interesting to see which team will come out on top. Will it be one of the previous champions or, will it be the challengers looking to bag their first title home? Only time will tell.

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