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Warriors are banking on home support

Calcutta: The glitz and glamour associated with India’s traditional sport will be on view when the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League begins at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. The city will host seven matches with Bengal Warriors taking on Bengaluru Bulls on the opening day.

Besides film personalities from the city, Abhishek Bachchan, owner of Jaipur Pink Panthers, along with wife Aishwarya will be present on Thursday. The Pink Panthers will play two matches in the city — against Telegu Titans on Thursday and Patna Pirates on Saturday.

The Bengal Warriors, led by Maharashtra’s Nilesh Shinde, have played one match so far, losing 25-36 to U Mumba. They are placed seventh in the eight-team standings.

The Bengaluru Bulls have won both their matches and are placed second with 10 points.

The Bengal Warriors have three foreigners — Iranian Farhad Kamal Gharibi, who’s a defender along with South Korea’s Jang Kun Lee (raider) and Seong Ryeol Kim (defender, right corner).

The team has only one player from the state, right defender Shyam Sha.

Bengal Warriors, who are looking to bounce back, will be banking on home support. “We’re hoping the enthusiasm of the home crowd will be a big boost… The crowd support is very important in kabaddi. We’re extremely confident of a great show and want to give our fans a lot to cheer about,” said Shinde.

Shinde feels Bengaluru Bulls will be a tough opposition. “Manjit Chillar and Ajay Thakur will be the key men… We need to keep an eye on them.”

Nitin Madane and Praveen Kumar are the ones Shinde is banking on from the home team.

Gharibi, who also plays football and volleyball, is hoping this experience will help him to improve his own game. “I’m a big fan of India captain Rakesh Kumar… Hopefully I can pick up some tricks of the trade which will help me prosper,” said the Iranian.

Daily tickets have been priced between Rs 100 and 300 and the organisers are hoping for a handsome turnout.

Meanwhile, according to an agency report three Pakistan players have reached Mumbai and will take part for their respective franchises during the Calcutta leg. The three Pakistan players are Waseem Sajjad (Patna Pirates), Wajid Ali and Atif Waheed (both Telegu Titans).