Pink Panthers – 2014 Pro Kabaddi winners – can they repeat the act ?
by Geo Sebastian
The inaugural match of the first Pro Kabaddi League in 2014 garnered approximately 66 mn viewers across the world, about 10 times more than the FIFA 2014 World Cup inaugural match, which featured Brazil.
As Amitabh Bachchan mentioned that the game is a combination of sports like wrestling, rugby and also the tactics of Chess, the ancient Vedic sport found a new avatar in the Pro League.
The tournament’s success mainly relied on nail biting finishes, hard fought battles amongst the teams, good marketing strategies and backing of who’s who of Bollywood.
Top two teams of the league, which battled the finals of 2014 were U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers, with the Jaipur team emerging victorious.
The Abhishek Bachchan owned team ran riot in the tournament and won 10 out of their 14 matches and proved the mettle of being the best team of the new gripping league, notching up 54 factors in league stage itself.
Coached by the Kasinathan Bhaskaran and led by Arjuna awardee Navneet Gautam, and riding on tremendous agility and form of their game changers like Jasvir Singh, Maninder Singh and Rajesh Narwal, the team from the Pink City of India overcame stiff resistance from other teams on their way to lifting the trophy.
They finished with as many as 3 raiders and 4 defenders in the top 20 list of best defenders and raiders in the 2014 season. The experienced Rohit Rana, who finished fifth in the list of top defenders, supported by Prashant Chavan, Rajesh Narwal and Ran Singh, ensured Pink Panthers had a formidable defence in the tournament. The powerful defence was supported by their artful and agile raiders led by Maninder Singh who finished third in the top raider list and the athletic allround game of Rajesh Narval and Jasvir Singh.
The owner of the team, Abhishek Bachchan himself was no less a key factor for the Panthers. He was always present – motivating, cheering and supporting his team in almost all the matches throughout the tournament.
As the Panthers start the defence of their title in 2015, can they create the same magic again to retain the winner’s trophy ?