Mumbai: Twelve teams, 13 weeks and 138 matches sum up the equation of Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 which rolls down on July 28 in Hyderabad.
Telugu Titans will take on new entrant Tamil Thalaivas in the opening fixture. Second match of the day will be an all-Maharashtra action as Puneri Paltan takes on U Mumba.
After adding four teams from this season, a format change was inevitable. The 12 teams have now been divided into two zones of six teams each, wherein each of them will be playing 15 intra-zone and 7 inter-zone matches, prior to the play-offs.
The play-offs stage will comprise 3 action-packed qualifiers and 2 eliminators on the lines of the Indian Premier League and are scheduled at Mumbai and Chennai.
Haryana Steelers, UP Yodha, Gujarat Fortunegiants are the other teams, which will debut in Season 5 besides the Thalaivas.
Bigger and better
“We are trying to get bigger and better. Many had doubts in 2016 as well when we hosted two seasons plus a World Cup, but it was a hit. Three-month-long season is a challenge for us, but I believe fans will like it,” PKL Commissioner Anupam Goswami told Sakal Times.
Gujarat Fortunegiants captain, Sukesh Hegde was happy to captain new side and believes that team will compete hard against all the
“I have experience of playing for Telugu Titans in last four seasons. Captaining for the first time will be a challenge but I am confident of leading my team,” said Sukesh.
Bigger and better fitness level key for Season 5
Two seasons in 2016 and a World Cup became a blockbuster hit for Kabaddi and now the organisers have played another blind card in 2017 that will see 13-week non-stop action.
Three months long tournament has already alerted players and they are getting ready to perform skillfully in the Season-5 that starts on July 28.
During a media forum of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League held in Mumbai on Wednesday, Puneri Paltan’s captain Deepak Hooda said “We need to take care of the physical level and we need to play technically so we can sustain our energies for the three months.”
Captaining for the full season, Hooda takes it as a challenge as he tries to build team in a right direction
“Players sitting on bench are also a concern for captain. You have to keep eye on every single member and also motivate them when they are struggling,” added Deepak.
U Mumba captain Anup Kumar also felt that fitness of all team members will play an important role and it is must to survive in the league.
“Me and my team are just coming from a 19-day camp in Dehradun where we only did physical drill and we are yet to practice on mat,” said Anup.
Baby becomes giant
Kabaddi league began its journey in 2014 and it just took 4 seasons to grow where it is now-a younger brother of Indian Premier League, which pioneered franchise-based leagues in Indian sports.
Kabaddi started its journey with a little share of recognition and it came up strongly on the basis of performance. “As league started to progress, sponsors, celebrities came on board in big numbers and everything started to turn bright for us,” added Shubranshu Singh, Marketing head of Star India.
Pune leg from October 13
- Pune will host last leg of league matches from October 13 at the Balewadi Sports Complex, Badminton hall. Deepak Hooda-led Puneri Paltan will play against Gujarat Fortunegiants. The leg will conclude on October 20 and action will switch to Mumbai for the first qualifier on October 22.
Pune Leg Schedule
- October 13: Pune v Gujarat (8 pm), Bengal v Tamil Nadu (9 pm).
- October 14: Tamil Nadu v Patna (8 pm), Pune v Mumbai (9 pm).
- October 15: Bengal v Uttar Pradesh (8 pm), Pune v Delhi (9 pm).
- October 16: Rest Day.
- October 17: Pune v Haryana (8 pm).
- October 18: Patna v Bengaluru (8 pm), Pune v Jaipur (9 pm).
- October 19: Rest Day.
- October 20: Hyderabad v Bengal (8 pm), Pune v Gujarat (9 pm).
New format for PKL season 5
- Zone A will consist of Dabang Delhi, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Puneri Paltan, U Mumba, Haryana Steelers and Gujarat Fortunegiants. Zone B will have Telugu Titans, Bengaluru Bulls, Patna Pirates, Bengal Warriors, UP Yoddha and Tamil Thailavas.
- Teams from the same group will play each other three times, while franchises from different zones will only face off against each other once through the league phase.
- Super Playoffs: Qualifier 1: 2nd placed team in Zone A vs 3rd placed team in Zone B.
Qualifier 2: 3rd placed team in Zone A vs 2nd placed team in Zone B.
Qualifier 3: 1st placed team in Zone A vs 1st placed team in Zone B.
Eliminator 1: Winner of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Qualifier 2.
Eliminator 2: Loser of Qualifier 3 vs Winner of Eliminator 1.
Final: Winner of Qualifier 3 vs Winner of Eliminator 2.
Kabaddi needs to set gold standards
- “EPL and NBA are the top two leagues in the world and if you want to achieve something like that then you need to set gold standards. Increase the reach of Kabaddi,” suggested Nic Coward, Sports Consultant and Ex General Secretary of English Premier League.
- “Your mission should be clear, your aim should to be above all. It is not only about quality of game but you should come out with innovative ideas like Fantasy Premier League that will increase the popularity of the game,” added Nic.
- “Commercial structure, sponsorships, brand awareness plays very important role. What background music you are using also makes impact on public. PKL has great logo and music is also great but it should sustain for a long time,” said Craig Thompson, Sports Consultant and Former UEFA Founder.
Olympics miles away for Kabaddi
- Viren Rasquinha, CEO of Olympic Gold Quest explained that the “International Olympic Committee has 39 different criteria which needs to be cleared to get recogination.”
- “Kabaddi needs to achieve to success on International and national level. League success will not count towards entry into Olympics,” said Viren and he was seconded by Coward and Thompson.