The inaugural edition of the Pro Kabaddi League drew to a close with the Jaipur Pink Panthers emerging victorious against hosts U Mumba on an evening that was a swirl of bright coloured flags waving in the audience, the odd Rakesh Kumar and Anup Kumar cut-outs seen in the stands and loud cries of 'U Mumba' interspersed with the occasional 'Ganpati Bappa Morya' renting the air at Worli's Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium.
Singer Shankar Mahadevan entertains the crowd ahead of the Pro Kabaddi League final at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Stadium in Worli yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Mumbaikars would have gone home dismayed at the eventual result, but they soaked in every minute of the night, cheering every move of both matches on offer — the 3rd place play-off and the grand finale.
The loudest cheer of the night, however, was reserved for the U Mumba players and the stadium reverberated every time the franchise brought home a point. While the action on the mat left the thousands of fans at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium enthralled, the players too were spellbound by the cheering fans.
Even India captain Rakesh, a veteran of multiple World Cups and Asian Games, was taken aback by the audience response at the stadiums. "The response has been phenomenal, much, much more than I had expected before the tournament started," said Rakesh, who is captain of the Patna Pirates, which finished third here yesterday.
Judging by the fans' reception to the tournament, it would not be far-fetched to assume that they would be wait with bated breath for the second edition to come around — perhaps a fitting end to a night that began with Shankar Mahadevan singing his signature 'Breathless' track.