The craze of Star Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 1 spread all across the country like a wildfire, ever since the news of its formation came out. With eight teams participating in the tournament trying to write their name in history by becoming the first team to win the PKL. Patna Pirates put their best foot forward in the first season and captured the attention of the viewers.
The team, belonging to the city of Patna, Bihar, finished fourth in the league stage, and lost to the eventual champions Jaipur Pink Panthers in the semi-final. They were ably led by Arjuna awardee Rakesh Kumar, who was the costliest player in the auctions with a price of Rs. 12.8 lakhs, and coached by RS Khokhar. Rakesh Kumar also captains the national team and brought with him plenty of experience to the PKL franchise.
Owned by Rajesh Shah of Mukand Steels, they played their home matches at the Kankarbagh Home Stadium. The team had the anthem “Dhool Chata Dega” composed and penned down by Prasoon Joshi and music director Aadesh Shrivastava and sung by Kailesh Kher to pump up and lift the players’ spirits every time they were in action.
For promotions, banners and posters were put up all over the cities, which attracted the general public in Patna and other parts of Bihar, who came to support their team and bided for them to win in every match. The game was also promoted on radio, with constant updates being given when the team was in action.
Team owner Rajesh Shah said, “The Pro Kabaddi Premier League and Patna Pirates would help establish Patna and Bihar in the sports arena. Prior to Pro KPL, Bihar did not represent in any sports league, say in cricket, hockey or football.” He had also said that the management was providing the players with all kinds of world-class facilities so that they could perform well in the tournament.
Ravi Dalal was the pick of the bunch
They started the group stage with mixed results, winning two and losing twice. They carried their indifferent form throughout the group stage and required a win in their final match to qualify for the knockout stage. Their final league match against Bengaluru Bulls was one of the most intense matches of the tournament. Coming back from the brink of defeat, the team managed to beat Bengaluru 33-31.
This match was indeed special for them as they were trailing 18-13 in the first half. Thankfully, their star player Sandeep Narwal managed to get 4 points in 2 raids in the dying stages of the game, which inspired the team to go for the win. The win was all that they needed to qualify for the semi-finals. The match also saw Ravi Dalal cross the 100 points mark as a raider. In their 14 group matches, they won 7, lost 5 and drew 2 matches to notch up a tally of 45 points.
In the semis, they came up against table toppers – Jaipur Pink Panthers. Unfortunately for the team from Bihar, they never got going and suffered a humiliating defeat with the scoreline reading 38-18. Awaiting them in the 3rd place playoff was Bengaluru Bulls, who had lost to U Mumba in the other semi-final. They got the better of the Bulls in a low-scoring encounter, coming out on top with a narrow 29-22 victory. Ravi Dalal and Sandeep Narwal performed admirably in the match to clinch a podium finish for the Pirates.
Ravi Dalal was one of their most successful raiders, with a total of 111 points. Sandeep Narwal (92 points) and Rakesh Kumar (89 points) were the other top-scoring raiders for the team. Suresh Kumar was the best defender for the team, with 32 points while Waseem Sajjad (27 points), Sandeep Narwal (26 points) and Girish Ernak (23 points) chipped in with crucial points. Their foreign contingent included Dovlet Bashimov of Turkmenistan and Tae Deok Eom of South Korea, who provided solidity and balance to the team.
Led by the Indian national team captain – Rakesh Kumar, they would like to do better than they did in the first season. Although finishing 3rd is no shame, their squad has the potential to take the next step and compete for the title in the second season.