After reaching the zenith of popularity last year, the second season of India’s Pro Kabaddi League began 10 days ago on July 18, 2015. The inaugural match of the new season was played at Mumbai’s National Sports Club of India Stadium between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers. These two teams met in the final last year with JPP emerging as champions. Like last year, eight participating City teams are playing each other in a double Round-Robin format. After the conclusion of 56 matches of the first round on August 19, two semifinals between first and fourth-placed teams and second and third-placed teams will take place on August 21. The season will culminate on August 23, 2015 with the final and a match between losing semifinalists for the third place. There is a tremendous enthusiasm in India since Kabaddi is extremely popular rural sport and its promotion at higher level by business houses and commercial sponsorships has been a welcome change for a widespread Indian population. With Star Sports bringing live-TV coverage in prime-time slot and commentaries in 5 Hindi, English, Marathi, Telugu and Kannada, the viewership has gone up by millions. The 2015 Pro-Kabaddi season has started off with a bang for U Mumba, who have won all their 6 matches so far to pile up 30 points.
The original idea of adding value to India’s kabaddi talent and glamorizing the sport, came from famous commentator Charu Sharma of Mashal Sports. Once the scheme was accepted, initial franchise investments were made by Ronnie Screwvala for Mumbai; filmstar Abhishek Bachchan for Jaipur; Uday Kotak for Pune; Kishore Biyani for Kolkata; DO IT Sports management for Delhi; Rajesh Shah for Patna; Veera Sports for Vizag and Kosmik Global Media for Bengaluru. No player auctions took place this year after two-year contracts were signed between the Franchisees and their players after last year’s auctions in May, 2014. India’s national kabaddi captain Rakesh Kumar was bought for ₹1.28 million by Patna Pirates owned by Mukand Group’s Rajesh Shah. Sports Authority of India’s Deepak Nivas was sold to Telugu Titans for ₹1.29 million. The highest paid foreign star was Iran’s Mostofa Noudehi, whom Pune took for ₹0.66 million.
In this year’s 18 league matches played until July 27, 2015, U Mumba have been the runaway winner taking all their 6 matches to top the table with 30 points. With 4 wins in 5 matches Telugu Titans are in second place with 21 points. Bengaluru Bulls have also won 4 matches out of 5 but they trail TT by a solitary point. Last year’s champions Jaipur Pink Panthers have lost all their 4 matches and they are at the seventh place in the league table. The Abhishek Bachchan owned franchise have lost two close games; the inaugural one in Mumbai against U-Mumba 28-29 and another against Bengal Warriors at 26-28. But they suffered two bad losses against Patna Pirates at 23-29 and 22-33 against Telugu Titans on July, 27 2015. In the other match played on Monday, Bengaluru Bulls crushed Dabang Delhi 33-18.
In the first match at the Sawai Mansingh stadium at Jaipur on July 27, Bengaluru Bulls completely outplayed Dabang Delhi. BB Captain Manjeet Chillar mounted some incisive raids that fetched him 9 points but BB also tackled smartly and didn’t allow DD any chance. BB led 17-8 at halftime and opened a sizeable second half lead to finish the lop-sided victory at 33-18.
The second match brought more heartbreak for defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers, who suffered their fourth consecutive loss. Playing against Telugu Titans, the home side were done in by brilliant raids from TT’s Rahul Choudhary. At halftime, TT only had a slender 8-7 lead but 40 points were scored in the remaining 20 minutes of the second half as the visitors piled up a sizeable lead to win the tie 33-22. JPP did their best but the closest they could reach was 12-17. Afterwards, TT players commanded the game.
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