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What a fightback! It’s a tie
Fans miss home player

Kabaddi enthusiast Kaushik Sinha had mixed feelings at the Patliputra Sports Complex on Thursday as well as the day after.

Overjoyed over home team Patna Pirates trouncing Puneri Paltan on Thursday, the young man was heartbroken over the non-inclusion of local boy Sunil Kumar.

Kaushik (22) said: “Patna Pirates fans were hoping to watch local boy Sunil Kumar play on his home turf. It was a bit disappointing even though we won.”

Sunil (25) is the lone player from Bihar in the 14-member Patna Pirates team but is yet to prove his prowess on the court in the Pro Kabaddi Premier League. Around half of the matches in the league are over.

On Thursday, fans had turned up in large numbers to catch the first match in the city at Patliputra Sports Complex. The enthusiasts were treated to an edge-of-the-seat thriller with the home team winning 35-27 but missed out on seeing the local boy decimate his opponents.

Echoing similar sentiments as Kaushik, Atul Prasad, who too was present at the sports complex, said: “Thursday’s match was sort of a no-contest against a weaker opponent and we were hoping that Sunil would get a chance but the team retained its usual players.”

According to sources, in the other three matches of Patna Pirates against U Mumba, Dabang Delhi and Bengaluru Bulls, there was little chance of Sunil playing, as these teams are stronger opponents than Puneri Paltan.

According to sources, the celeb owner of the Jaipur Pink Panthers, Abhishek Bachchan, would be present at the sports complex to cheer his team. Wife Aishwarya’s presence however, was not confirmed. In the match standings, U Mumba leads the points tally with 33. Bengaluru Bulls and Patna Pirates are in second place with 16 points each. Dabang Delhi is not very far behind the Pirates with 13 points. The Pune team, at present, are at the bottom with eight points.

A senior official of the Bihar Kabaddi Federation, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “The other scheduled matches of Patna Pirates are against much stronger teams and it would not like to experiment with the playing combination.” Patna Pirates coach R.S. Khokhar said: “It is professional kabaddi league and every team wants to win. To experiment in these matches would not be a wise decision.”

Khokhar, however, did not rule out the possibility of Sunil getting a chance but refused to give any confirmation on whether the Patna youth would play any matches on his home turf. He added: “Sunil is junior-level player and is still learning. The team would utilise his skills in future.”

Sunil works as a ticket collector for the East Central Railway at Hajipur. Another player from Bihar, Bhavesh Kumar of Dabang Delhi, however, got his chances to play a few matches.

Apart from Sunil, Dovlet Bashimov from Turkmenistan, too, has not figured in the playing seven of Patna Pirates in any matches till date. The only foreign player who got a chance was Waseem Sajjad of Pakistan and Tae Deok Eom from Korea. The latter played in the match gainst U Mumba on Friday night.

Sources said the team has decided to retain star players such as skipper Rakesh Kumar, raider Ravi Dalal and defender Sandeep Singh, as they performed well in the matches till date. These stars were also priced exceptionally high compared to less known names. Rakesh is the highest paid player with a price tag of Rs 12.8 lakh, while Sandeep and Ravi’s bid prices were Rs 8.4 lakh and Rs 7.10 lakh, respectively. Sunil’s bid price was Rs 1.5 lakh.

The prize money at Pro Kabaddi Premiere League is Rs 2 crore of which the winners would pocket Rs 1 crore. The first runners-up would receive Rs 75 lakh and the remaining (Rs 25 lakh) would be won by the second runners-up.