It is no more an Indian regional sport played on sand fields. Vivo Pro Kabaddi League, heading into its sixth season, has transformed this Indian rural passion into the sport of professional icons with having contracts worth over ₹1 crore.
Monu Goyat and Haryana Steelers have put Kabaddi in the rich and elite professional sports league as the Haryana Franchisee sealed the deal for this 26-year-old Haryana lad for ₹1.51 crore at the PKL auction. A record this sixth PKL crorepati player has created is going to stay here for a while.
Not just Goyat, but Steelers have taken all in the hall by surprise as the player has not been the lead raider for his franchisee last year. Haryana Steelers have shown a nerve of steel. “We have targeted him and were aware that he will go for a high price. We are happy to get him. Our coaches have studied him minutely and we are confident to have him as the No. 1 raider for our side,” said Haryana Steelers’ Mustafa Ghous.
As the auction for PKL Season VI went underway in Mumbai on Wednesday speculation was rife about kabaddi players getting their first ₹ 1 crore deal. How many? That was the big and intriguing question.
There are not just one, not two. But Day One of the PKL Season VI auction witnessed the emergence of six crorepatis in professional kabaddi.
The answers had started pouring in earlier than expected. The five highest-paid players last season were all Indians. The record is shattered by an overseas star as Iranian Fazel Atrachali stayed with his franchisee U Mumba in a ₹ 1 crore deal. Kabaddi, hours into the PKL auction for Season VI, got its first crorepati icon.
“I am very happy to find myself back in the Mumbai team.,” Fazel said in an ecstatic telephonic conversation. “Mumbai is like a home for team for me. I have great regard for them. I am happy to be back with Mumbai. I thank my team owners for this.”
“Defence is a very strong aspect of this game. Fazel had played with us and we are happy to get him back,” was an immediate reaction from the U Mumba owner Ronnie Screwvala, who also did not rule out the bar going higher further. “There can be three to four more crore rupee deals.”
The Jaipur Pink Panthers in the hunt for all-rounder Deepak Niwas Hooda soon bettered the PKL record for a player’s highest pay package. There was a certain madness in franchisees’ methodology to get this 26-year-old. Haryana Steelers had taken the bid from ₹30 to lakh to ₹ 70 lakh. It stopped at ₹1.15 crore when auctioneer Chris Cowdrey thumped the hammer in favour of Jaipur Pink Panthers.
Hooda did expect to reach the ₹1 crore mark after having seen the trend during the day. It will reach ₹1.15 crore, that has taken him by a surprise, too. “I am excited but at the same time feeling a bigger responsibility. I expected to breach the one crore mark after seeing the bid for Fazel. But ₹1.15 crore is somewhat surprising even for me,” said Hooda, who will “miss Pune that was my home for three years”.
It was a record’s galore thereafter. The best number for the season is soon matched by the player to get the best deal last year. Nitin Tomar, who was acquired by Puneri Paltan for ₹93 lakh last year, went to the Jaipur Pink Panthers’ camp member now for a ₹1.15 crore deal. This was till then the joint highest deal for the season.
Maharashtra Raider Rishabh Devadiga is another crorepati, the fourth for the day. The franchisees raided intensely for this raider before Dabang Delhi placed the highest bid for him at ₹ 1.11 crore, only to let their catch taken away by UP Yoddha with their right to match the Final Bid.
The drama continued to unfold for Rahul Chaudhari and Monu Goyat. Dabang Delhi had to face the agony of seeing their yet another lead initiative taken away by the right to match the Final Bid. This time Tamil Thalaivas took home Chaudhari by matching Dabangs’ ₹1.29 crore bid. The franchisee understood the value of this champion, whom it could not have retained as retention rules did not permit to pay more than a 10% premium over a player’s bid price last year. The player and the franchisee are finally happy to reunite through this auction route.
Click here to dig deep into the Day 1 action at the Vivo Pro Kabaddi player auctions.