KOCHI:The city of Kochi has witnessed its fair share of glitzy and glamorous cash-rich sports leagues over the years. Indian Premier League cricket that set off the trend visited these parts seven years ago while the city’s football fans are the most vociferous among the Indian Super League lot.
However, come December, Kochi will play host to a whole new game as the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) arrives on its shores. Launched in 2014, the professional league has gained tremendous acceptance across the country and is now set to offer the fans of the sport in Kerala a share of that excitement.
The Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here will host four adrenaline-filled play-off matches of the sixth edition of the PKL on December 30 and 31. This season will see 12 participating teams, divided into two zones of six apiece, play 15 intra-zone and seven inter-zone matches prior to the play-offs. The final is slated to be held in Mumbai on January 5, 2019.
“It will be a great occasion for the fans of kabaddi in Kerala. We are confident that the matches will be a sell-out especially if some of the Kerala players reach the play-off stages,” said K Vijayakumar, secretary of Kerala Kabaddi Association. “Some of the best kabaddi stars in India and the world will be in action at Kochi,” he added.
Teams competing in the league includes Akshay Kumar-owned Bengal Warriors, Adani Group-owned Gujarat Fortune Giants, Abhishek Bachchan-owned Jaipur Pink Panthers, Kerala Blasters FC’s sister concern Tamil Thalaivas and U Mumba, owned by entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala. Patna Pirates are the reigning champions.
The Kerala stars in the league include 32-year-old raider Shabeer Bapu Sharafudheen who will turn out for Dabang Delhi KC this season, Kozhikode youngster Adarsh T of Bengal Warriors and the duo of Athul M S and Vimal Raj who plays for Chennai-based Tamil Thalaivas.
The sixth season of PKL will begin in Chennai with a clash between Telugu Titans and Tamil Thalaivas on October 5 and will travel across 13 cities in the country before the grand finale in Mumbai next January.
The PKL which usually begins in July had to be moved this year because of the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. “We had to adjust the new season to start from October as nearly all of the world’s top kabaddi athletes are playing for their national teams in the Asiad,” said PKL league commissioner Anupam Goswami.
Pro Kabaddi League
The Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here will host four adrenaline-filled play-off matches of the
sixth edition of the PKL on
December 30 and 31. This season will see 12 participating teams, divided into two zones of six apiece, play 15
intra-zone and seven inter-zone matches prior to the play-offs. The final is slated to be held in Mumbai on January 5, 2019