HYDERABAD: It may not quite have been the equivalent of the just concluded G20 summit in its magnitude and pageantry but in terms of bonhomie and warmth shared among a few of the participating coaches of the Pro Kabaddi League ahead of the Hyderabad leg, the packed gathering was left yearning for more at the end of a lively interactive session on a nippy Thursday evening.
It shouldn’t be lost on any that the coaches of the said league are engaged in a profession where they rarely make eye contact, for their eyes are perennially glued to the high-octane drama happening on the mat, but on the few occasions that they do, it is more an intense glower than a friendly glance. Given all this supposed rancour that exists among them, it indeed came as a pleasant surprise to see a handful of them, five to be precise, behaving like staunch allies waging a war against a common adversary.
That’s the beauty of this sport as those who have otherwise come to be regarded as fierce rivals on the mat are transformed into fast friends the moment they step off it. With the climax of the Season 9 of the PKL bursting into sight after the conclusion of the Pune leg, the teams and the ones in charge of them are single-mindedly devoted to taking their respective sides into the playoffs. Failure to do so would see their stock plummet besides jeopardising their position as head coach when next season comes knocking on their door.
Randhir Singh, coach of the current table-topper, Bengaluru Bulls, exuded confidence about his team’s prospects, as one would expect him to, but was quick to acknowledge that those at the dregs of the table can’t be written off yet.
“This season has been the most competitive since the inception of this league. All the teams are separated by only a smattering of points. One win or a tie or a loss would dramatically change the standings. And another welcome development was the return of fans to the stadium. With their constant cheering and encouragement they have a significant bearing on the outcome of the match. Im looking forward to a closely fought Hyderabad leg,” opined Randhir.
As for his part, BC Ramesh, Puneri Paltan’s coach, expressed optimism that his team, ranked second as things stand, would continue doing what it has been doing from the beginning of this season and reserved high praise in particular for raider Aslam Inamdar.
Gujarat Giants coach Ram Mehar Singh, a two-time winner of the trophy with Patna Pirates, said every match is virtually a must-win from here on as his team looks to climb up the table from a lowly 11th position. Telugu Titans coach Venkatesh Goud and Bengal Warriors head coach Kasinathan Baskaran were also present on the occasion.
Play-offs and final in Mumbai
The Season 9 play-offs and final will be held at the Dome, NSCI SVP Stadium, in Mumbai. The Eliminator 1 and Eliminator 2 will be hosted on December 13, while the semi-finals will be held on December 15. The final is set to be held on December 17.