It is time for the start of the decisive phase of Season 2 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi from tomorrow at Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra.
After Mumbai, Pune had a big hand in shaping the destiny of Kabaddi in Maharashtra and the country. Had it not been for the benevolence of the Bank of Maharashtra and one of its top brass Vasantrao Padgaonkar’s vision India’s first foreign tours to Bhutan and Bangladesh wouldn’t have materialised. The tours served as the stepping stone for the game to spread its roots in Asia and now aiming to gain an entry in the Olympic Games. The Bank promoted the sport for almost five decades and had teams for men and women too which not only helped the sport to sustain but also gain mass popularity. Their teams were a big draw in All-India tournaments played in the state. Puneri Paltan’s present coach and twice Asian Games gold medal winner and Arjuna Awardee Ashok Shinde, is a product of the Bank’s Kabaddi promotion scheme.
For the Kabaddi loving Puneites this is a good opportunity to see the top stars in action. Although their team hasn’t fared as per their expectations they will still be rooting for them as they will be playing for pride. If they are successful they will be assuring their followers of a more combative and effective Paltan ready to do battle with the best next season. In Season 2, the Paltans have shown much improvement through their captain Wazir Singh along with rising stars in Pravin Niwale and Mahipal Narwal.
Coming to the decisive ties, it will be worthwhile watching the ones between Jaipur-Kolkata, Patna-Jaipur, Pune-Bengaluru and Pune-Patna. Not only Puneites but even die-hard fans from Mumbai are expected to throng to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Kreeda Nagari at Balewadi to witness the engrossing battles for a place in the play-offs.
With Patna, Jaipur and Bengaluru still in the hunt the last phase will be keenly followed by Kabaddi enthusiasts. Today’s matches at Bengaluru will however make the picture clearer. If Patna can beat Mumbai and Bengaluru can repeat their first leg win over Hyderabad then Jaipur’s chances will be threatened. It’s not going to be easy as both U Mumba and Telugu Titans would like to keep the momentum going in their quest for title. So, lots of action is in store for the ‘Punekars’ till the last raids in both the matches are completed on the concluding day.
Star Sports Pro Kabaddi will also witness iconic personalities and local musicians and bands recite the National Anthem every day of the league. After notable performances of the National Anthem from Amitabh Bachchan, Sourav Ganguly, Manoj Tiwari, Akriti Kakkar, Allu Arjun and Puneeth Rajkumar, starting the proceedings in Pune will be Bollywood playback singer and famous musician, Benny Dayal. On the following three days, Pune will be spectator to the performances of Ajay and Atul (Bollywood music directors); Shalmali Kholgade (Bollywood playback singer); and Shreyas Talpade (famous Bollywood actor)
With Season 2 of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi starting on August 16 in Pune, the league stage will be coming to an end before the caravan moves back to Mumbai for the semi-finals and finals. There is feverish anticipation following all the excitement and entertainment offered by the league this season so far. Added to this, the race for the play-off spots will throw up some exciting finishes especially with the final match of the league stage being played between home team Puneri Paltan and Bengaluru Bulls. The Pune leg promises to be four days filled with amazing tackles and breath-taking raids in the best example of kabaddi possible.