Two first-timers come face to face in the ProKabaddi League Season-7 final. However, Dabang Delhi and Bengal Warriors come armed with a wealth of big-match experience in the face-off for the title.
Dabang defender Vishal Mane will be playing the fifth final of his pro career. Donning U Mumba colours in the first three seasons, the burly tackler tasted victory in Season-2, ended up on the losing side in seasons one and three and celebrated again in Season-4 with Patna Pirates.
Warriors defender Jeeva Kumar is playing his fourth final (three times with U Mumba and winning once), while teammates Sukesh Hegde and K. Prapanjan are gearing up for their second final (Gujarat Fortunegiants in seasons five and six respectively).
“Patience is the most important quality,” says Mane. “The team that waits for opportunities to score has won.” Dabang is in secure hands, with him and captain Joginder Narwal to calm any nerves.
Hegde is more forthright: “I lost a final as captain in the Season-5 with Gujarat FortuneGiants, this is another chance to lift the title. If I cannot achieve that, might as well retire and make way for younger players.”
“I was not among the players in demand at the auction, Bengal Warriors chose me at the last minute, otherwise my career was in trouble. I have to win the title for them,” he added.
Amidst this hard-earned experienced heads is young Naveen Kumar (Dabang), shaping up for his first final.
“My job is to see my team do well. And, if my team is winning, another Super 10 may happen,” said Naveen, who has 21 Super 10s in his collection.
Team coach Kishan Hooda, asked about thoughts on final eve, said: “I cannot predict the outcome, but can promise a contest which will make fans happy.”
Warriors coach B.C. Ramesh, who guided Bengaluru Bulls to the title last season, agreed that raiders and catchers in both camps were of the highest class. Errors will decide the result, he says.
Maninder awaits physio decision
Ace raider and Warriors first-choice captain Maninder Singh is awaiting expert medical advice before the team management decides if he is fit to play Saturday night’s final.
He lifted the trophy with Jaipur Pink Panthers in Season-1, went through treatment and recovery till Season-7 when Warriors picked him.