Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anjali - Pro Kabaddi League

It's a bit late in the day but I cannot forget the finals of the Pro Kabaddi League that Anjali made me watch about a fortnight ago. There is much kabaddi talk going on at home these days and she suddenly takes off as if she is on a raid with a 'kabaddi, kabaddi' zigzagging her way in. I am supposed to catch her but she slips away and well, she is delighted.

She also tells me that her entire class is divided into various teams and she keeps telling me how this team and that team play and how they dance or do the team jig before their games. She learnt the steps of every jig and showed me and made me do a couple (and was terribly distressed at my attempts). Anyway her favorite team was Patna Pirates and she marked this relatively unknown team out as her favorite team for some reason. She knew their names and their star players - Rajesh Mondal, Rohith Kumar, Sandeep Narwal, Manpreet Singh and company. A formidable opponent rose on the other side - Mumbai's U Mumba  which is the defending champion - fully supported by her friend, Harsh. So she was praying that Patna does well.

The final took off in rousing fashion and it did not take me long to figure why Kabaddi is such a rage. I got completely involved to the extent that I caught myself contorting my body in a raid or a defensive move in tacit support to my favorite teams. Patna Pirates got off to a great start and left U Mumba quite behind. But U Mumba is not the defending champion for nothing and came on par towards the end. It required a mistake, an extraordinary raid under pressure, to finally swing it to Patna.

When the teams were level and U Mumba was seemingly running away from the game I saw Anjali slip away and sit inside in my room. I could see her talking something to herself. I asked her later what she was doing - she told me she was talking to the Patna players. I asked her what exactly she spoke but she would not disclose more than a - I supported them.

Anyway looks like they heard her because they turned the game around a bit and well, it was Patna Pirates, first time finalists and rank outsiders, who won the game. I have seen people praying or getting upset or hassled but this is the first I saw a direct talk. Looks like it worked too.

Anyway, I was in a state at the end of it all and quite relieved. I am now a huge fan of PKL and look forward to watching it again. I like the simple and rustic nature of the players, the spirit in which they play such a physically demanding and bruising game and the many aspects of machismo, heroism and team spirit that they display. More on that later. But for now, just a celebration of the game. Thanks Anjali.

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