Kabaddi is a traditional Indian sport. Its a full contact team sport that has a huge presence in rural India. The game is played in two halves, where each half is of 20 minutes duration with a five minutes recess. There are seven players on each side. Owing to its international appeal, it was introduced as a discipline in the 11th Asian Games at Beijing in 1990, where the Indian team emerged champions and won the gold medal.
Birth of Pro Kabaddi League
Thus, the Asian Games victory proved to be a boon for Kabaddi back in our country. Since then, enormous fan bases start following the game. So much so that the popularity of the game led to the birth of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) in India, currently known as Vivo Pro Kabaddi League. First PKL was held in 2014, in which eight franchisee teams took part. The format of the competition was designed on the lines of the Indian Premier League of cricket, with special attention to television audience.
In the early days, there was doubt over the success of the PKL. But the response of the public was immense. The viewership in the inaugural session was 435 million. 2014 edition final was played between the Jaipur Pink Panthers and U-Mumba, which was watched by record 86.4 million fans. Star Sports, the official PKL broadcaster, announced in 2015 to acquire a 74 percent stake in the league’s parent company Mashal Sports.
Next, Premier Kabaddi League added four new teams in the fifth edition in 2017. So, organisers had to change the format and split the teams into two divisions, known as ‘Zones’. Over the years, PKL has emerged as the second most costly league in India after IPL.
At present, seventh edition of Vivo Kabaddi League is going on. All the twelve teams are competing hard. Defending champions ‘Bengaluru Bulls” are hoping to retain the trophy this year too. Other teams have also come with better preparation and improved team strategy. Since it’s a franchisee led model, players of all the teams put ample blood and sweat into the game, so that they can command higher rates in future auctions.
Induction of New Teams
Certainly, tough competition is on the cards in the 2019 Kabaddi league. Vivo PKL is underway. It is organised by Mashal Sports and Star Sports. Four new teams: UP Yoddha, Tamil Thalaivas, Haryana Steelers, and Gujarat Fortunegiants have been inducted in the 2019 Vivo Pro Kabaddi League. Twelve teams from eleven different states are currently fighting for the seventh title of the Pro Kabaddi League.
Meanwhile, crores have been showered on the players. The 12 Vivo Pro Kabaddi franchisees have spent over Rs 50 crores to hire 200 players-173 domestic and 27 foreign players. Four players are getting over Rs 1 crore. But the costliest player of this edition is Siddharth Desai of Telugu Titans getting Rs 1.45 crore, then comes Nitin Tomar of Puneri Paltan who is getting 1.15 crore.
Till now, Patna Pirates can be considered the most successful and consistent team in the PKL. This team has emerged winner three times out of six. However, the inaugural edition of PKL was won by Jaipur Pink Panthers in 2014. U-Mumba was declared the winner in the second edition in 2015. In the last edition in 2018, the title went in favour of Bengaluru Bulls. Seventh edition is in progress right now. Keep watching to see which team emerges champion in the current edition of Pro Kabaddi League in 2019!