With 2017 coming to an end, it is time to take stock of the year gone by. It was a very interesting year for kabaddi fans the world over as a number of international players booked a VIVO Pro Kabaddi slot and got a chance to prove themselves in front of the world. Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi also garnered a record number of viewers making the final match the highest viewed non-cricket event in India. In our special feature for the New Year, we bring you some of these memorable moments.
1. Pardeep Narwal piles on the records
It was the Pardeep Narwal show all the way in Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi. The talented young captain of Patna Pirates amassed 369 raid points in the season, 150 clear of the next most successful raider. Along with his signature move, the Dubki, Narwal also brought a number of new skills into play like the jump and kick which made him even more lethal. With his raiding prowess on the rise, kabaddi fans are waiting to see what the Dubki King will do next.
2. India crowned Asian champions
India has a proud history in the sport of kabaddi, winning a number of international events and producing some of the best players the world has seen. They won the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup under the captaincy of Anup Kumar and in 2017 it was Ajay Thakur’s turn to lead the Indian side to yet another international title. Playing in the 2017 Asian Kabaddi Championship, the Indian team made short work of all their opponents and clinched both the men’s and women’s title in the event with ease.
3. VIVO Pro Kabaddi’s record-breaking season
VIVO Pro Kabaddi made its way into the record books this season as the finale between Patna Pirates and Gujarat Fortunegiants became the most viewed non-cricket event in India with the viewership numbers hitting 313 million, putting to rest initial fears of viewer fatigue. The league, which spanned over three months, kept viewers engaged till the end and reached new regions with Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh also finding representation in the league this season.
4. Nitin Tomar raises the bar
A number of kabaddi players have credited VIVO Pro Kabaddi with popularising the sport and making it financially viable for the players. However, no one would have imagined the startling amounts which the top players went for in the auction before Season 5. The biggest beneficiary of this was Nitin Tomar, who was bought by debutants U.P. Yoddha for a staggering 93 lakh, making him the most expensive player yet in VIVO Pro Kabaddi history. Young kabaddi players can now draw inspiration from this and work hard to make a career in the sport of kabaddi.
5. Young stars of kabaddi impress
India has been home to some of the best kabaddi players in the world. It is no wonder then that they have managed to win almost every international title in the sport. However, with a lot of heroes of the game like Anup Kumar, Navneet Gautam and Jasvir Singh not having age on their side, all eyes were on the youngsters playing in VIVO Pro Kabaddi to see how the future of Indian kabaddi looks. And they didn’t disappoint. A lot of young, talented players like Gujarat Fortunegiants’ Sachin and Mahendra Rajput, Haryana Steelers’ Vikas Kandola and Telugu Titans’ Vishal Bhardwaj among others, made their presence felt and proved that they can hold their own against the best in the world. This bodes well for the future of kabaddi in the country.
6. Patna Pirates’ triple title triumph
Patna Pirates came into Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi with successive title victories under their belt and were hungry to score a hat-trick of titles. After a few initial hiccups, particularly in the defence, they managed to do this with ease as they proved far superior to their competition in all departments. Right from captain Pardeep Narwal to second raider Monu Goyat and corner Jaideep, everyone contributed to the Pirates’ record-breaking feat. They have now set a benchmark that the other teams in the league will have a tough time trying to measure up against.
7. KBD Juniors kicks off
KBD Juniors, an invitational tournament held for schools from various parts of the country kicked off last year and was very well received by the audience. A number of young kabaddi players from different schools turned up to prove their mettle. In the end, South Point World School were crowned national champions but the real victory was for the sport of kabaddi. A number of youngsters from this event impressed and will no doubt be future stars of the sport.