Pro Kabaddi League Highlights: Bengal Warriors, U Mumba post wins; Telugu Titans draws with Tamil Thalaivas

Pro Kabaddi League Highlights: Re-live the opening day of the Pro Kabaddi League as Bengal Warriors defeated UP Yoddha, U Mumba got past Bengaluru Bulls and Telugu Titans and Tamil Thalaivas played out a tie.

PKL Season 8 began with U Mumba facing Bengaluru Bulls in the tournament opener.   -  Special Arrangement

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's highlights of the opening day Pro Kabaddi League. This is Shyam Vasudevan and Lavanya Lakshmi Narayanan bringing you the coverage for the day.

PKL DAY 02 LIVE: Pro Kabaddi League LIVE: Gujarat Giants vs Jaipur Pink Panthers

Meanwhile, you can also check out our Kings of Kabaddi series from PKL 7  - a happier time pre-COVID when we got to physically sit down with some of the biggest names in the league and hear their stories. You can check out all episodes here:

 

Alright then, that brings us to the end of our Pro Kabaddi League coverage for the day. We will be back tomorrow for another pulsating triple-header. See you then!

Bengal Warriors begins its title defence in style as it cruises to a 38-33 win over UP Yoddha. Full marks to the defending champion for its all-round display, while I'm rather flabbergasted by UP Yoddha's conservative approach towards the end. The team, despite having the all-time leading scorer in Pardeep Narwal, chose to raid with the secondary raiders and seemed more than content to simply pick up the one point on offer.

Bengal Warriors, on the other hand, gave it their all and rode on Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh's brilliance. The Iranian picked up 11 points and was ably supported by Maninder Singh as the duo scored nearly half of their side's points. The Bengal Warriors will be thrilled with the victory, while it appears UP Yoddha might just be content with that one point.

38-33 The UP Yoddha defence gets rid of Sukesh and have picked up another point, it's a five-point contest now with around 30 seconds left.

For the uninitiated: If a team loses by less than a seven-point margin, then it gets one point. That's what the UP Yoddha seem to be going for.

37-31 That's very strange from UP Yoddha - Surender goes in for the raid despite having Pardeep on the mat! It looks like UP Yoddha is simply playing for the one point.

Pardeep seems tired (!?!) and lets Rohit Tomar go on the next raid. That's quite unlike Pardeep.

37-31 Another empty raid from Pardeep....the Dubki King has been a tad off-colour today.

37-31 Maninder has been bundled out and UP Yoddha has reduced the deficit to six points!

37-28 Super Raid for superb Sukesh! It was a do-or-die raid and Sukesh does so well to get the bonus and two touch points. The Bengal Warriors are running away with this one, while Pardeep continues to remain on the UP Yoddha bench. Less than five minutes left on the clock!

Bengal Warriors coach BC Ramesh - "Don't take any pressure on yourselves, you'll win this game comfortably."

34-28 Was that a dubki from Rohit Tomar? The youngster, making his debut today, does really well to jump over defender and pocket a point.

33-25 That's bad news for UP Yoddha as Darshan swoops in to stop Pardeep. The UP Yoddha side has been remarkable today - a proper unit.

32-23 Nabibakhsh has just been tackled for the first time. The Iranian superstar has 11 points already - seven raid points and three tackle points.

32-22 Another thigh hold and it's Bengal Warriors' Darshan this time who gets rid of Surender.

31-22 Maninder doing what Maninder does best - takes out another defender. Ashu tries a front block on Maninder, but there's no stopping the Bengal Warriors captain.

29-20 The Bengal Warriors have coasted ahead to a nine-point lead. The coach says don't take any unnecessary risks now and ensure you concentrate on the remaining 14 minutes.

25-19 Oh my word, that has to be the raid of the evening! Nabibakhsh does the unthinkable and eliminates FOUR players! There's a pile of bodies on him but he manages to sneak his hand past the line. Absolutely jaw-dropping stuff from Nabibakhsh.

21-19 That's some solid defending from Nabibakhsh. He holds on to Pardeep's ankle and Abozar swoops in to complete the tackle. Some neat little teamwork from the two Iranians.

19-18 That's a new tactic from Sukesh - he lets go of the bonus and gets a touch on the right corner instead.

Talking points:

- UP YODDHA MANAGED 13 POINTS IN THE LAST 10 MINUTES.

- PARDEEP AS USUAL, HAS NO HELP FROM HIS OTHER RAIDERS.

- ALL ROUND NABIBAKSH A TREAT FOR THE WARRIORS

FIRST HALF:
Bengal Warriors began with a bang, with UP Yoddha looking almost clueless initially. It took them some time to find their feat, Pardeep especially. Maninder Singh got off to an initial flurry but very quickly lost steam seemingly. Spending some time on the bench pissed off Pardeep who returned with renewed vigour. While Maninder dipped, Nabibaksh has proven to be a reliable second fiddle, matching Pardeep's efforts - both have six points to their name. Points are level at the end of the first half with Bengal Warriors going away with more to be frustrated about. Can they stamp their dominance in this second half? Can Pardeep blow his opponent away single handedly? Or will this end in a stalemate? I guess you'll find out with my colleague Shyam who will take you through the final passage of play tonight.

18-18 MANINDER GIVES IT AWAY.
Sumit and Nitesh Kumar pin down Mani and points are level. How fast tides change in the Pro Kabaddi League.

UP Yoddha's defense has kept Maninder quiet - he has just 1 point from the last five attempts.

18-17
Nabibaksh to the fore again who gets a thigh hold on Pardeep and pins him down, with the Bengal defense banding together to finish the job

17-17
Nabibaksh gets a bonus point and a touch and crawls back to the line. Points level.

15-17
Abozar Mighani steps out of bounds. Point gifted to UP Yoddha. Lead lost. Bengal Warriors won't be happy about this oh but wait, looks like one more goes for the Warriors. Two points.

15-15 POINTS LEVEL
and it's poetic that Mani is pinned down to bridge the gap. The defense bands together and pins Maninder down.

15-14
UP Yoddha's defense pins down Sukesh Hedge. Nitesh Kumar with the ankle hold and then the cover defenders come in to handle the rest.

15-13 UP Yoddha effects an all out. Pardeep now has five points to his name. Back on brand is Pardeep.

13-9 Pardeep sends Parveen off the court to get two easy points

13-7
Bonus point to Sukesh Hegde

12-7
Two points to Pardeep. Nimble on his feet here as he gets two touch points and walks off to his half.

12-5
Pardeep gets his first successful raid of the night and opens his PKL 8  account. The thigh hold is barely a hindrance to the league's most expensive player.

13-4
Maninder's first unsuccessful raid of the night. Nitesh Kumar holds Maninder's knees and gets him down.

12-3
Maninder Singh is unstoppable. Gets a touch and saunters off to his half. So cool. Added insult to the opponent.

11-3
Darshan hammers Srikanth Jadhav into the banners.  No one saw that coming.

Two raid attempts. Two failures for Pardeep.

10-3
Pardeep goes in towards the left corner but the Warriors have cornered him after Nabibaksh went in with a thigh hold. ALL OUT and it's only been 7-ish minutes in this game.

7-2
Nabibaksh adding insult to injury. Goes to the right corner, waited for the defenders to latch on and then dragged them to the midline.

5-2
Surender Gill's sliding toe touch gets UP Yoddha a point and gets Pardeep Narwal back on the mat.

5-1
Maninder comes in, the defender goes out because he himself goes out of bounds. Train wreck for UP Yoddha so far.

4-0
I went off to drink water and the Bengal Warriors has shown intent straight up. Maninder Singh is in the thick of things with two successful raids and one where he wiped out one entire defensive corner.
--

While I try and cool off, we have our last fixture of the night - the defending champion Bengal Warriors will take on Pardeep Narwal's UP Yoddha. Stay with us.

This game has left me frustrated. I don't know about you. Tamil Thalaivas and Telugu Titans went into this encounter with even intensity. Titans then ran away with the game at the start with the Thalaivas trailing by more than 7-8 points. They then made a comeback in the game, courtesy some smart raiding by Manjeet and the solidity of Surjeet rallying the defense. The Titans then fell back by over 9 points with Siddharth Desai watching most of this encounter from the bench. The Thalaivas then made a few questionable moves allowing the Titans to bridge the gap and take a one-point lead. Manjeet got the lead back in place but then ended up gifting the Titans a draw with an unnecessarily risky slide into the left corner to find himself out of the mat seconds later. Titans will be happy with where they've finished in this match.

40-40
Manjeet comes in and goes deep into the left corner and remains there as he's ushered out of the mat. Manjeet has cost the Thalaivas a win here after such a good game!

40-39
Prapanjan killing the clock now, but what if this backfires? Thalaivas can never be too sure, given their track record.

40-39 
Siddharth comes in but the defense gangs up on him and sends him to the bench yet again. Siddharth seemed unsure of the bonus and bungles the raid too.

39-39 Manjeet levels scores

38-39
Telugu Titans have wiped out Thalaivas and the deficit. They have a 1 point. POOR POOR FROM THALAIVAS

38-35 OH SIDDHARTH. What has he done! SUPER RAID! Also, SUPER 10 for the big guy!

38-32
Well done. Ajinkya Ashok Pawar is undone by the Titans defense.

38-31
Instant impact from Adarsh. Gets the bonus point and a point.

Substitution: Adarsh comes in for C Arun

Tamil Thalaivas is now evidently looking to kill the clock. Smug but they can afford to. Titans need to try and bridge the gap.

Siddharth Desai is watching from the bench. This cannot be pleasant for him. Massive 2019 vibes from his predicament here.

38-29
Running hand touch from Manjit. Surinder goes out once more. Like clockwork. Manjeet smiles.

FIVE MINUTES TO GO.

The Titans coach is already asking the team to focus on reducing the lead to under seven points.

37-29 Ankit Beniwal has made a mess of that. Surjeet pulls him back and thwarts his attempt to get to the line.

36-29
Surjeet goes off as Rakesh Gowda gets his side into the 30-point bracket. The Tamil Thalaivas have reviewed this decision. So here's how this went: Surjeet pulled down Rakesh near the left corner. The point of contention is, has Rakesh gone to the orange area before getting a touch on Surjeet? REVIEW SUCCESSFUL. Rakesh is out, point to the Thalaivas instead. Nicely done.

35-29 
Siddharth Desai is having a disastrous game as he's sent back to the bench once more.

34-29
Manjeet gets a touch but is pulled back by the left corner. Sandeep Kandola gets a hold of Manjeet's ankle and pulls, ably supported by the others to neutralise Manjeet.

33-28
The left corner comes around, corners Rakesh Gowda after he's gotten the bonus. Sahil produces the initial block and is joined by Sagar as they pin down Gowda.

Thalaivas coach says fight fire with fire. Attack.

Thalaivas have done well to comeback after initial hiccups. Not much separates these two teams. 10 minutes remain and for both sides, this is going to be the longest 10 minutes of the day.

30-28 SUPER 10 for Manjeet! Brilliant performance. Tackled just twice today. Siddharth Desai taking notes from the bench.  TIMEOUT

29-28 Rakesh Gowda gets a point for the Titans.

29-27 SUPER TACKLE
? Manjeet is blocked and pushed back behind the line. The Thalaivas camp is furious. Was Manjeet tackled around the neck?  Referee reviews the point saying holding the jersey makes Manjeet safe. The review shows the first defender - Sandeep - pulling Manjeet's jersey. That's an obstruction. Review favours Manjeet! No super tackle. Siddharth Desai stays on the bench.

28-27
Rakesh Gowda raids successfully for a point to Titans.

28-26
Prapanjan does well on the do-or-die raid. Despite being deep into the corner, Prapanjan targets the right corner and drags the defender with him to the midline.

27-26
Rituraj steps into the orange zone without touching an opponent. Wasted

26-26
Sandeep Kandola is bringing the Titans back into the game. Gets a hold of Manjeet's ankle and drags him down, the other side of the defense comes in and pushes Manjeet out.

26-25 Siddharth Desai walks back to the bench as quickly as he got on the mat. He's sent away without much noise too after seemingly getting a bonus point. The Thalaivas close in on him and push him out. There is a player review for a bonus point from the Titans. REVIEW SUCCESSFUL. Siddharth Desai gets the bonus point but that's about it. He's still out.

25-23 SUPER TACKLE for Titans. Bhavani Rajput raids unsuccessfully to allow Siddharth Desai back on the bench.

25-21 Rajnish tried to go through the middle but there was no way he was escaping the closedown that followed. Titans reduced to three men.

24-21 Manjeet dives forward and gets a point to get the second half started

I forgot how taxing PKL live blogs can be. There's barely any time to breathe but we wouldn't have it any other way! Second half coming up.  Hope you've grabbed some refreshments too!

23-21 HALF TIME: Would you have thought 10 minutes ago that the Tamil Thalaivas could manage to comeback into this game the way they have? Nothing is impossible in the Pro Kabaddi League as the Thalaivas have shown. Manjeet with eight points so far is justifying that hefty pay check he got from the PKL auctions with a spirited performance in the first 20 minutes. Siddharth Desai has been kept quiet by the Thalaivas defense and will begin the second half on the bench too. The Thalaivas will need more of this. Rajnish has been encouraging for the Titans and might need to shoulder more responsibility to help Siddharth Desai get back out there more - basically better Chandran Ranjit at what he managed so perfectly in the first game of the night.

22-21
Manjeet gets a bonus point, but more importantly is happy to waste time to keep Siddharth Desai on the bench for longer.

21-21
Excellent work by the Thalaivas. A thigh hold keeps Siddharth Desai rooted too far away from the midline and he's sent back to the bench.

20-21
Prapanjan tries to slide into the attack but is kept there by the Titans.

20-20
What a way to close down the gap. Adarsh is brought down by the right corner as the Thalaivas make their way back into this game.

17-20
Manjeet gets the point and reduces Titans to one man on the mat. Thalaivas are so close to triggering an all-out.

16-20
Bonus point for Titans

16-19 SUPER RAID for Manjeet! He's brought down a little away from the bonus line, Manjeet back tracks and takes the three defenders who made the mistake of holding on to him, with him.

13-19 Rajnish tries to rush things but is thwarted. Point to the Thalaivas

12-19 Do or die raid for Thalaivas. Prapanjan is taken down and pushed to the side. Sandeep and Ankit putting the hard yards in for Thalaivas

12-18 Sagar is too eager. He jumps at Rajnish who carries him to the midline. Why block so close to the midline? Elementary errors here from Thalaivas

12-17 Thalaivas have sent Siddharth to the bench, blocking his path to the midline and ushering him off the mat.

11-17 Excellent block from Sagar on the right corner as he pins Rajnish down. The Thalaivas gang up to neutralise the threat.

10-17 Good bit of raiding from Manjeet as he dives down to take a point

9-17
Two points for Telugu Titans and what do we have here. The defense lets them down yet again Rajnish is handed his points on a plate by the Thalaivas defense here.

9-15 Prapanjan gets a bonus point and is gifted a touchpoint along the way as well as he tries to frantically bridge the gap

7-15 The right corner is leaking points. Bhavani Rajput tries the ankle hold but fails. Siddharth Desai is making it look far too easy

7-14 Manjeet gets a bonus point for Thalaivas

6-13 Bonus point for Thalaivas. Outplayed so far in this game, the gulf between the two sides is widening

5-14 Rajnish has swiftly picked up a point, managing a touch on the left corner.

5-12 Telugu Titans have got off to a bright start here as they've inflicted an all-out already. Worrying signs for Thalaivas.

Tamil Thalaivas on the verge of the all-out.

4-8 Sandeep Kandola at his best here as Bhavani Rajput is swept off his feet and swept off the mat

4-7 Prapanjan comes in and Rituraj comes from behind him with a hold around his waist and brings him down. No mercy from the Titans.

3-6 Rajnish goes in swiftly, catches a player in blue and adamantly demands the point for his team.

3-4
Outstanding effort here from the Telugu Titans. Herculean effort from Rituraj Koravi as he pulls back the raider from the Thalaivas to earn them a point.

3-3
Siddharth has been pushed out of the mat. Thalaivas need three men to ambush him out of the playing area. Phew. Titans get the bonus point though.

2-2
Siddharth Desai comes in and goes deep in the right. Surjeet gets a hold on him but Siddharth is tall and fast and drags him to the line.

2-1
Tamil Thalaivas gets a bonus point to its name as well. Playing it safe so far.

1-1
Titans get off the mark with a bonus point.

1-0 Prapanjan makes use of a little too much eagerness from Rituraj Koravi in the right corner to give the Thalaivas their first point of the night.

Tamil Thalaivas will have the first raid.

20:45 - As we wait for the clash begin, take a look at our interview with Siddharth Baahubali Desai in 2019. Making the opponents dance to his tunes is not a skill unique to the mat for this raiding powerhouse.



Hey everyone! Lavanya Lakshminarayanan here. I'll be taking you through the second game of the night. It seems to be a day of Southern derbies! Chennaiyin FC is playing against Kerala Blasters in the ISL and the Telugu Titans and Tamil Thalaivas are locking horns here in the PKL today. Excited!
--

Stay tuned as we will be back in a few minutes when the Telugu Titans take on Tamil Thalaivas.

It's a massive opening day win for U Mumba as the former champion cruises to a massive 46-30 win over Bengaluru Warriors. U Mumba rode on its defensive brilliance and Abhishek Singh's compelling form to claim the victory. Abhishek ran riot as he scored 19 points, while the U Mumba defence did remarkably well to contain Pawan Kumar Sehrawat. Chandran Ranjit was the best player of the evening for Bengaluru Bulls as he pocketed 12 points.

That's the game! U Mumba defeats Bengaluru Bulls 46-30.

29-46: Abhishek gets another raid point and that is his 19th point of the game - wow!

29-45: This U Mumba defence is truly unpenetrable. No way past them!

28-44: Ashish Sangwan gets the better of Pawan yet again and the Bengaluru Bulls captain is back on the bench! It almost appears like Pawan has spent an equal amount of time on the mat and bench today.

28-43: ALL OUT! That surely has to be the game. Abhishek inflicts another All Out and U Mumba now has a unassailable 15-point lead.

28-40: Another excellent block from the U Mumba defence as Chandran is thrown off the mat.

27-38: Pawan has been taken out, for the seventh time today, as Mohsen and Fazel combine to neutralise the threat. Bengaluru Bulls is now down to three men and is staring at an All Out!

26-37: Ajith Kumar came on the mat less than a minute ago and has delivered with a stunning three-point raid! That Super Raid gives U Mumba a comfortable 11-point lead with a little less than five minutes to go. The youngster now has six points to his name.

26-34: Super Tackl for U Mumba! Chandran Ranjit heads in for a do-or-die raid but cannot get past Fazel's powerful tackle.

26-32: This is a huge moment as Bengaluru's right cover Mayur comes around Abhishek and five players combine to tackle Abhishek. U Mumba is now down to three men!

25-32: Chandran sneaks out of Harendra's ankle hold and picks up another point.

24-32: Rahul, making his PKL debut today, does extremely well to stop Pawan and the rest of the U Mumba defence pounces on Pawan to deny him a point.

24-30: Pawan gets a running hand touch on Mohsen to bring up a Super 10! That is his 31st Super 10 in the PKL. The Bulls trail by only six points now.

23-30: Pawan makes an unsuccessful review and the Bulls have no reviews left for the remaining 12 minutes of this half.

21-29: Super 10 for Chandran Ranjit! He seems to be Bengaluru Bulls' primary raider today while Pawan has only managed a few bonus points and has been tackled four times thus far.

20-29: That's the first time Abhishek has been tackled today! Mayur makes a fantastic tackle and ushers Abhishek off the mat.

19-29: That pretty much sums up Bengaluru Bulls' game so far. Pawan goes deep into the U Mumba half and is taken out by Rinku.

18-28: ALL OUT! It's the second All Out of the evening for U Mumba and the former champion has now opened up a massive 10-point lead! The Bengaluru Bulls defence really needs to step up now.

17-25: U Mumba has the first raid of the second half and Abhishek gets rid of Pawan! The Bulls are down to one man now and are staring at an All Out.

What a breathless opening half of kabaddi that was! Abhishek Singh set the mat on fire with a stunning Super Raid that saw U Mumba escape from the jaws of an All Out and take a seven-point lead. Chandran Ranjit has been Bengaluru Bulls' star player so far and has kept the scoreboard ticking for the home side. The Bulls, though, will need to address its defensive woes.

17-24: Abhishek grabs another point off the last raid of the half as U Mumba heads into the interval with a seven-point lead.

"Right corner not good, target there," says Fazel to Abhishek, who has a shot at a Super Raid.

17-23: U Mumba extends its lead to six points as the defence clamps down Chandran Ranjit.

17-21: No one told us Spiderman is making his PKL debut today! That is an absolutely stunning raid from Abhisek as he picks up three raid points and a bonus to complete a Super 10. U Mumba was down to just one man and Abhishek's raid has brought back three more U Mumba men from the bench. An absolute game-changing raid - he jumped nearly six feet in the air!

15-17: That is a humongous raid from Chandran Ranjit - he claims another Super Raid and takes his tally to nine points!

13-16: Pawan gets the better of Fazel this time! He muscles his way past Rinku and Fazel and has picked up two valuable points.

11-16:  A little bit of hastiness in Bengaluru Bulls' left corner as Aman, making his PKL debut, attempts a rather poor back hold and Abhishek pockets another point.

10-15: More makes another mistake as he pounces on Ajith a tad too early and the U Mumba raider thrusts himself away.

10-13: U Mumba had a six-point lead not so long ago and Bengaluru Bulls has done really well to reduce that lead.

10-12: That's a strong raid from Chandran Ranjit as he evades Rinku and Harendra to bag two points. Make that three! Chandran gets the bonus point too and we have our first Super Raid of the evening!

7-12: Pawan claws a point back for Bengaluru Bulls as he dives ahead to get a touch on Mohsen. Bengaluru trails by five points.

5-11: ALL OUT! Abhishek tilts the game in U Mumba's favour as he cleans up the Bengaluru Bulls defence and inflicts an All Out.

5-7: Ashish Sangwan joins the party as he traps Pawan with a thigh-hold. Ashish was with the Bengaluru Bulls last season.

5-6: Abhishek is at it again as he gets a touch on Saurabh, who simply could not get out of the way, to pick up another point.

4-5: Abhishek makes a successful raid and uses his favourite running hand touch to give U Mumba the lead for the first time.

4-4: That is a huge tackle from Harenda as he launches himself from the left corner and takes out Chandran Ranjit.

4-2: Abishek Singh picks up U Mumba's first raid point as he gets a touch on GB More.

4-1: GB More throws himself on Ajith and picks up a tackle point. Pawan will return to the mat now for Bengaluru Bulls and he picks up a bonus point right away.

2-1: Chandran Ranjit gets a bonus point for Bengaluru Bulls.

1-1: U Mumba draws the first blood as it flattens down Pawan Kumar Sehrawat! Pawan gets a bonus point but Harendra and Fazel floor him.

--

7:31pm: U Mumba has won the toss and Bengaluru Bulls will begin with the first raid.

7:30pm: Neeraj Chopra kicks things off, virtually, as he sings the national anthem. And to my surprise, Fazel is singing along too! That's super cool from the Iranian.

7:28pm: Both the teams are on the mat. What a familiar sight this is...we sorely miss being in the stadium! Live streaming will have do for now. Two minutes to action, who do you think is going to take top honours today?

 

7:25pm: We're less than five minutes away from action! Sit back and grab some popcorn, for this promises to be an enthralling encounter.

 

7:20pm: Here's how the two teams will start today -

U Mumba - Fazel Atrachali, Abhishek Singh, Ashish Sangwan, Harendra Kumar, Ajith Kumar, Mohsen Maghsoudlou, Rinku

Bengaluru Bulls - Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, Mayur Jagannath, Mahender Singh, More G, Chandran Ranjit, Saurabh Nandal, Aman

7:15pm: Bengaluru Bulls will have a new captain this season in Pawan Kumar Sehrawat. The muscular raider replaces Rohit Kumar, who has since moved to Telugu Titans. Pawan is a true beast on the mat, he scored 360 points last campaign to top the scoring charts for the second season running. Pawan holds the record for the most points in a match at 39 and will be crucial in Bengaluru Bulls' quest for a second title.

Here's a really fun chat we had with him last season, where he talks about his journey with Bengaluru Bulls, how he nearly quit the sport and his love for PUBG (it was still around then!).

 

7:10pm: U Mumba has the advantage over Bengaluru Bulls in terms of head to head stats. The two sides have played each other 14 times and U Mumba has won 10 of those matches, while Bengaluru Bulls prevailed on four occasions. Interestingly, Bengaluru Bulls won both the games when the sides clashed last season.

7:05pm: Coming to today's game, U Mumba is led by the very charismatic Fazel Atrachali. The Iranian is the best-paid foreign player in the PKL and is among the best defenders in the modern age. He orchestrated Iran's win over India at the 2018 Asian Games and led the nation to the gold medal.

Fazel, one of the most entertaining players in the PKL, had a sit-down with us last season and spoke about his love for Bollywood, Indian food and his chance meeting with Amitabh Bachchan -

 

7pm: Speaking of Indian stars....let's talk about Mr. Pardeep Narwal, better known as the Dubki King. The 24-year-old was signed by UP Yoddha for a phenomenal 1.65 crore to become the most expensive player in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League.

Main bolta bohot kam hoon (I don’t speak much),” he says in a chat with Sportstar. He's one of those players who let their game do the talking.

Having won three titles with Patna Pirates, he is eager to taste similar success with his new side. “We have a very balanced team with plenty of youngsters. The onus will be on me to steer the team as a seasoned player, but I have full faith in the team. We don’t have a trophy yet and I would like to change that this season,” he adds.

Pardeep Narwal

UP Yoddha signed Pardeep Narwal for ₹1.65 crore, making him the most expensive player in the Pro Kabaddi League.   -  Pro Kabaddi League

 

6:55pm: From Siddharth Desai to Pardeep Narwal, Pawan Kumar Sehrawat and Naveen Kumar, here are five players to look out for in PKL 8 - Five Indian stars to watch out for

Pawan Kumar Sehrawat

Pawan Kumar Sehrawat scored a mammoth 360 points for Bengaluru Bulls in season seven of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL).   -  R. Senthil Kumar

 

6:50pm: Siddharth Desai, Telugu Titans' ace raider, has a point to prove this season. Dubbed the Baahubali of the kabaddi world, the muscular raider pocketed 220 points last season, the fourth-highest in the league, but was far from his best. A shoulder injury had partially restricted his performance, but he’s had two years now, almost too much time he concedes, to fully recover.

Recovery ke liye jyada hi time mil gaya, do saal tang ho gya wait karke (I got a little too much time to recover. I was getting impatient to get back to playing.) I have been focusing on strengthening my lower body and have been working on improving my explosive power, This will help me grab a bonus point and evade the defenders,” he says.

“I am very excited and keen to show how I have improved my game. The team has trusted me and made me the vice-captain. My target is to take the team as far ahead as possible,” he adds.

Siddharth Desai has enjoyed success with the franchise but was unable to get them in the top half of the points table in season 7.   -  ProKabaddi League

 

6:45pm: Patna Pirates' new captain Prashant Kumar Rai gave a very interesting quote in yesterday's pre-tournament press conference. "Come February, one of the 11 teams will face Patna Pirates," he quipped. Here's what the other captains said - From Pawan Sehrawat to Fazel Atrachali - what the captains said ahead of PKL 8

PKL Season 8 will begin with U Mumba facing Bengaluru Bulls in the tournament opener.   -  Special Arrangement

 

6:40pm: Another new element this season is the fact that each of the Saturdays will have three games each! The first four opening days of the season will also feature three games each. Also, this season will be a slightly shortened affair and the final has been slated for February 26.

The league was initially set to begin in July but the onset of the second wave of the pandemic meant the organisers had to push it to the end of the year.   -  Pro Kabaddi League

6:35pm: So, what's new this season you ask? For starters, this season will be held behind closed doors at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel and Convention Centre. All 12 teams will be housed in the hotel, have designated time slots for training and meals, and will be allowed to travel only to the competition venue, which is just a few yards from their rooms. More on that here - PKL Season 8: Return of the action heroes

PKL 8 will be conducted in a bio-secure bubble at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel and Convention Centre.   -  Special Arrangement

 

6:25pm Season eight of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) kicks off today with a blockbuster battle as U Mumba loks horns with Bengaluru Bulls. U Mumba is led by Iranian superstar Fazel Atrachali  for the third season running, while Pawan Kumar Sehrawat, who was the best raider last season, will captain Bengaluru Bulls for the first time.

The two teams had met twice last season and Bengaluru Bulls won both those clashes. Both teams made it to the semifinals last season, with U Mumba falling to eventual champion Bengal Warriors, while Bengaluru Bulls lost to Dabang Delhi.

Where to watch PKL 8?

You can watch all the games in the Pro Kabaddi League on the Star Sports Network. The matches will also be streamed live on the Disney + Hotstar app