Bengaluru, Dec 23: The highly anticipated Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 has begun with a bang as the opening day witnessed three high-octane encounters. The PKL resume action after a 20-month hiatus forced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For the very first time, the PKL is witnessing a Triple Header format this term. The first four days of Season 8 and the subsequent Saturdays will have three matches, giving the audiences an opportunity to watch one extra match.
The tournament began with U Mumba facing Bengaluru Bulls in the tournament opener at Sheraton Grand in Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Centre. All the 12 teams are going to stay at the hotel in a bio-secure bubble throughout the tournament due to the pandemic.
While the format of the PKL Season 8 will be the same as the previous edition, all 12 teams are set to play against each other twice, with the top six teams qualifying for the playoffs. However, almost every side is looking a tad different from the previous seasons.
Hence, most of the teams are being led by new faces for this season while a few sides have shown faith in the past captains too.
The 12 captains representing each team include Maninder Singh from Bengal Warriors, Joginder Narwal from Dabang Delhi K.C, Sunil Kumar from Gujarat Giants, Pawan Sehrawat from Bengaluru Bulls, Vikash Kandola from Haryana Steelers, Deepak Hooda from Jaipur Pink Panthers, Prashant Kumar Rai for Patna Pirates, Nitin Tomar from Puneri Paltan, Surjeet Singh from Tamil Thalaivas, Rohit Kumar from Telugu Titans, Nitesh Kumar from UP Yoddha and Fazel Atrachali from U Mumba.
This is what every captain said before the start of the league:
Bengal Warriors captain, Maninder Singh (captain from the previous season): "Kabaddi is an extremely tough sport that requires quick strategic thinking and presence of mind. The team has been working hard on building their fitness and working on key techniques. Stepping into Season 8 as defending champions is extremely motivating. The team is prepped and ready to put up a competitive game against every opponent."
Dabang Delhi K.C. captain Joginder Narwal (captain from the previous season): "As we step into the new season of Pro Kabaddi League, we are looking forward to competitive matches as every team has put in maximum efforts possible to improve their game. With passion and new goals, we, as a team are excited about the new season and aim to take home the prestigious trophy for the first time."
Gujarat Giants captain, Sunil Kumar (new captain): "Pro Kabaddi League has really helped us grow as players and improve our playing skills. The team has bonded well and as a unit we have built a strategy for this season in order to ensure that we perform to the best of our ability. I am looking forward to a successful Season 8 and make our fans proud."
Bengaluru Bulls captain, Pawan Sehrawat (captain from the previous season): "We are taking all the situations into account and planning to get the best results throughout the season. Randhir sir keeps us on our toes and have been training us mentally and physically to prepare us in the best way possible to be successful this time out."
Haryana Steelers captain Vikash Kandola (new captain): "Our coach and staff are working very hard to build this season on the squad we have. They have been paying close attention to our fitness regimes, and our training sessions have been very good. Our squad has a good mix of youngsters and experienced players, and we are all ready to take on any challenge and make this season a very successful one."
Jaipur Pink Panthers captain Deepak Hooda (captain from the previous season): "We have been working rigorously for the new season, and we intend to give the best shot. With the squad having new young talent, we are sure to have a great season as we will be a surprise package. The team is mentally and physically prepared for the new season, and we aim to play well with strategic and smart thinking."
Patna Pirates captain, Prashant Kumar Rai (new captain): "Our approach this season is different - we are going with a young squad and a refreshed outlook in terms of strategy and planning. Each match will have a surprise element keeping our opponent team on their toes. There is a Plan B for every situation, and we will step on the mat with full preparation. Our fans across the country will not be disappointed, and we request them to continue supporting us from the comfort of their homes."
Puneri Paltan captain, Nitin Tomar (new captain): "With Season 8 commencing, there is a lot of excitement among the team members and fans alike. We are looking forward to getting back in the game with high level of competitiveness - the training is rigorous; we are working on multiple levels of techniques and skills. This year, we aim to treat fans to nail-biting matches and intend to take the trophy home."
Telugu Titans captain, Rohit Kumar (new captain): "This season is very different from the previous one as there is a change in the format of the league, it is a different setting that we are getting used to. We have a very well-rounded team with top talents that can make a huge impact on the games going forward. Our aim is to put our best on the mat and make our fans happy."
Tamil Thalaivas captain Surjeet Singh (new captain): "I think we have a young and talented squad this season, these youngsters have the capability to show their skill on the mat. We have been training hard under the guidance of Udaya sir and will aim to put our best on the big stage."
UP Yoddha captain, Nitesh Kumar (captain from the previous season): "First of all we are excited to be finally back on the mat after a gap of two years, second, we are confident and well prepared, thanks to a long time we as a team spent during our long training session at our UP Yoddha BK Kabaddi Academy. This is going to be a challenging season, both on the mat and off it too given the new dynamics of the bubble life, but as a team we are geared to take on the challenges and give it our all for each other, fans and our home state Uttar Pradesh."
UMumba captain, Fazel Atrachali (captain from the previous season): "We are opening the season with a game against Bengaluru Bulls - a strong team on paper, but we have prepared a contingency plan to tackle each player. We are going for a simple game with a strong and balanced team. We have a combination of speed and agility in our raiding, and techniques and skills in our defence - we are confident to entertain fans with a nail-biting match."