Abhishek Bachchan: 'Home leg is going to be demanding for Panthers'

“We’ve had a bit of bad luck with injuries,” admitted Jaipur Pink Panthers owner Abhishek Bachchan, in an exclusive interview with Sportstar.

Abhishek Bachchan cheers for his team, Jaipur Pink Panthers, in Chennai on Sunday.   -  PTI

Injury has been the word of the season for the Jaipur Pink Panthers as it has struggled to cope with largely depleted squad for most part of the fifth season of the Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL).

Having won the inaugural edition and finishing as the runner-up last season, the side has had a rather poor run this time around.

“We’ve had a bit of bad luck with injuries,” admitted team owner Abhishek Bachchan, in an exclusive interview with Sportstar. “In the initial three matches we lost three of our top players and subsequently lost six of our starting seven. We have a battered and injured squad but they’ve fought really well and last night’s win was a huge confidence boost for them,” he said.

The Panthers was rocked by captain and star defender, Manjeet Chillar’s injury after a mere four games, which largely affected the squad but also saw the stepping up of raider Jasvir Singh.

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“Manjeet is a key player and a lot of our team is based and built around him and no team likes to lose its captain to injury, that too for almost a month,” said Bachchan. “However, Jasvir stepped up and took the reigns and we got back to winning ways.” Unfortunately, the side was soon deprived of Jasvir's services as well — as he suffered an injury.

The team has played out many close matches since and has lost a few as well, leaving it with a lot of catching up to do, as it precariously hangs on to the fifth position in Zone A, with 43 points from 14 games. “We at Jaipur Pink Panthers have a legacy of never making things easy for ourselves. I feel terrible admitting it but I think it's evident to everybody that we are not at full strength as a squad,” noted the owner.

After one more game in Chennai, The Panthers enters its home leg in Jaipur from October 6, in what will be a very crucial phase for the side if it is to qualify for the semifinals. “The home leg is going to be very demanding,” he said. “We're playing six matches back-to-back is very physically demanding. Zone A is very tightly contested and every team is at a juncture where they all have to win all their games and the same applies to us as.”

“We are an injured squad but we will not use that as an excuse. We will fight with until the very end,” he added with fervour.

When asked on if he’d be interested in a kabaddi league for women, he said, “I've always said I'd love to have a kabaddi tournament for women and I'd be one of the first people to sign up for it. If there is a proposal, I'd be the first one to sign up.”

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