A prolific rise in viewership led to the third season of Pro Kabaddi following closely on the heels of the second one. This was also the season when the organisers unveiled a new 10-week format as opposed to the old 5-week one, meaning the year 2016 would see two seasons in January and June respectively.
Season 3 kicked off in Hyderabad. All eyes were on defending champions and first-season finalists U Mumba, who didn’t disappoint and edged the home team 27-25. U Mumba went on to win 11 of their next 13 league stage matches and then their semifinal tie to set up a third successive final, this time against Patna Pirates. However, after two successive semis defeats previously, the Pirates were particularly motivated this time and reached their maiden final, where they continued their good work by getting the better of U Mumba 31-28.
The Pirates demonstrated great fighting spirit in what was undoubtedly one of the most exciting matches of the season. They ran away to an early 10-2 lead before finishing the first half 19-11 ahead. U Mumba, however, were in no mood to let it continue and vindicated their defending champions’ tag by staging a magnificent comeback in the second half. At one point, they had the game tied at 28-28 with not much time left on the clock. However, the Pirates managed to keep their cool as Deepak Narwal rose to the occasion with a last-minute raid to tip the scale in his team’s favour. The Pirates defence also came to the party and ensured a three-point win. Debutant Rohit Kumar, who was instrumental in the Pirates campaign, was rightly chosen MVP of Season 3 with 102 raid points in 12 appearances.
The match for the third place saw Puneri Paltan banding together to beat Bengal Warriors 31-27 and ending their rollercoaster of a campaign on a high. Bengal Warriors were far from their full strength but were still able to give the Paltan a good run for their money. The Titans and inaugural champions Jaipur Pink Panthers finished fifth and sixth respectively. Last season runners-up Bengaluru Bulls had a rather disappointing campaign managing just two wins from their 14 games. They were just one win clear of last-placed Dabang Delhi, whose only win came against the Bulls.
The players did not have much time to dwell on the results though. With another new season not far away, they had to quickly move on from their euphoria or disappointments.