Now it is time for newly crowned heroes to take the centre stage. On Sunday, 30th December, the top six teams will fight it out for the title.
Pro Kabaddi season 6 started on 7th October and finally it is coming to an end. The long and winding season had its ups and downs but for most part it did not live up to its previous glory. Let’s look at certain aspects which we failed to notice or appreciate in this long season
Too many matches
Pro Kabaddi season 6 tried to cash on the popularity among the sports crazy enthusiasts and they increased the no of teams to 12. They were divided into two zones so each zone had six teams who played on round robin basis thrice. This accounted for 15 matches within the zone for each team. Further each team played one match with team of other zone along with one bonus match. So in total each team played 22 matches and a total of 132 matches in a season.
Pitfalls of a long schedule
This sport is too grueling physically and many teams suffered on account of injuries. Nitin Tomar, Anoop Kumar, Surendra Nada, Wazir Singh and Rajesh Bhardwaj are the main casualties and their teams have suffered on their account. Most disheartening news is that Anoop Kumar has taken retirement owing to his injury.
Due to 132 matches it is very difficult to track the teams and most ardent fans lost the charm of collating data. Fans became charged only in the month of December, when the points table started showing some semblance. In the process being glued to your TV set lost its way among viewers and passionate fan following took a blow.
In order to have 12 teams, the PKL should have a large number of quality players to choose from. How many states have a state championship or leagues to develop players? So, the result is Haryana, Punjab, Services, Maharashtra and Andhra supply 90% of players. This bred mediocrity in team selections and competition is not as intense as it used to be in earlier seasons.
This also eroded the interests of spectators and we have witnessed sharp fall in viewership. Further we can see that newspapers and channels do not feature Kabaddi news any more owing to lost popularity. I suggest that only eight teams should fight it out season 7. Even in cricket, the number tof teams is restricted to eight, in spite of availability of players. So, creating 12 teams was definitely a mistake.
Standings of top 6 teams
|Gujarat F giants||22||17||3||93|
|U P Yodha||22||8||10||57|
When season 6 started the new cash-rich stars like Manu Goyat, Pradeep Narwal, Ajay Thakur and Rahul Choudhry were on everyone’s lips. Now all the above top players are not part of these 6 teams and so we can infer that Indians do not estimate the quality of players. Indians overestimated their talent and made them stars when they did not deserve the same. Playing in the league against weak opposition is easy. The same nucleus represented India in the Asiad, where they surprisingly succumbed to South Korea.
I happen to witness their conversation of players and interacted with them and I was aghast to note their priorities. Probably too much success has come too quickly and assimilation has not taken place. The players have been taken by the so-called Gurgaon effect.
The New Heroes
In the raiding zone we saw the emergence of Maninder of Bengal Warriors. Pawan of Bengaluru Bulls, who scored more points than Rohit and Kashilinga is a revelation for all Kabaddi fans. Naveen and Chandra of Dabang Delhi hunt in pair and they are instrumental in reviving a failed side. Sachin, Papanjan and Amit exemplify team work and they took Gujrat to the pole position. Rishank has come out of the shadows of Nitin Tomar and Deepak Hooda to take UP Yoddhas to the second phase.
This season will be known for the rise in standards of defence. U Mumba and Gujarat are at the top courtesy their defensive strategy. Attrachalli, Cheralthan, Sunil Kumar, Surendra Singh, Bhainswal and Nitesh Kumar have overturned the results on so many occasions.
Who will be the winner of PKL Season 6?
Tecnically and strategically Bengaluru Bulls are my clear favorites to win the trophy. They have 3 raiders, Pawan, Rohit and Kashilinga who raid with different approaches and can create havoc. On the flip side they make tactical mistakes and become over confident. So, if they maintain their composure they will win. In the qualifier against Gujarat I see them as the clear winner on 31St December.
Gujarat Fortune Giants fans may disagree with me as this team has won the maximum matches and their defence is very potent. However, in the playoffs only good raiders are left they will not unnecessary chances. Further, raiders of Gujarat are good but not creative. So, if the defense becomes patient the Gujarat can be beaten.
Bengal rides on fortunes of Maninder and he is a master of bonus but if he is tamed then Bengal is an ordinary side. The defeat to UP Yoddhas is testament to that.
U Mumba is one team that I love to watch as they are all about energy and team work. However their stars like Siddharth Desai can be grappled by good defensive strategy. In 2nd phase only good teams remain so U Mumba will find it difficult to win.
UP Yoddha is lucky to be here and I see them tumbling in their first encounter against U Mumba. Probably Bengal lost to them on purpose to eliminate Patna Pirates (defending Champs). Sorry UP fans, the players are happy just to make it to this level.
Dabbang Delhi will win their match against Bengal as their raiders are of high quality. Naveen, however, suffered a head injury and he is not performing at that level. So, in next matches against Gujarat or Bengaluru they will lose nonetheless. Dabbang Delhi fans may pray for an upset win.
I view a repeat of the qualifier between Gujarat Fortune Giants and Bengaluru Bulls in the finals. May the best team win but my pick will remain Bengaluru Bulls.