The stage is set for a star-studded opening ceremony of the Indo International Premier Kabaddi League (IPKL) at Balewadi stadium in Pune on Monday. The first match of the tournament will see the home side Pune Pride locking horns with Haryana Heroes. For the next one week, the stadium will play host to 20 more games before the IPKL caravan proceeds to Mysore and then to Bengaluru for the final leg. Eight teams will be battling it out for the title and a pie of the Rs 4 crore prize money over 23 days.
Speaking before the beginning of the tournament, Dalbir Malik, captain of Pune Pride, said: “I am excited and looking forward to our first game tomorrow (Monday). We are sure about not leaving any stone unturned for victory.” Amit, captain of Haryana Heroes, said, “A second league for kabaddi is a good thing to happen. We have so many talented players in India and a league like this allows players find new platforms to showcase their talent.” Stating that his team is looking forward to first game against the home team on Monday, Amit said, “We are new but strong team with just winning as motto.”
Commenting on the league, Mumbai Che Raje captain Shashank Wankhede said: “I feel fortunate to be playing my second kabaddi league in India. What really impresses me is the structure on which this league is being built upon. I am confident IPKL has a bright future.” “I am excited about the league. We will play our first match against Chennai Challengers, which has a good mix of players including the experienced Manoj Kumar. We want to give our 100 per cent to make IPKL a success,” said Sunil Jaypal, captain of Diler Delhi. Bangalore Rhinos captain Vipin Malik seemed confident of his team’s chances. “We have had a good pre-season camp. We know we are a strong unit and are confident of a successful run this season. I hope IPKL becomes a great thing for all kabaddi players in India.”
Grand Masti star Kainaat Arora and India’s Got Talent stars and Michael Jackson-inspired dance group MJ5 will add the glitz and glamour to the opening ceremony of the league.