Pro Kabaddi League Season 6 trophy unveiled

The trophy was unveiled in the presence of team captains in Chennai on Friday. The city hosts the first leg of the tournament from October 7-11.

The captains of the Pro Kabaddi League franchises during the curtain raiser event in Chennai on Friday.   -  R. Ragu

The sixth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League begins on October 7. As a curtain raiser for the tournament, the trophy was unveiled in the presence of team captains in Chennai on Friday. The city hosts the first leg of the tournament from October 7-11.

Except for Haryana Steelers’ Surender Nada who couldn’t make it, the team captains of the other 11 teams were present at the event, interacting with media.

Most of the questions were, unsurprisingly, directed at the Tamil Thalaivas captain, Ajay Thakur. The Tamil Thalaivas had a poor outing in season 5 — its debut season — finishing at the bottom of Zone B. After losing all of its home games last season, the Chennai-based team will be looking to get a strong head-start as it kicks off its new campaign at home.

Ajay Thakur scored the third-highest raid points last season despite a poor performance by the team. But he believes everything is in place this season to avoid a repeat. “Last season, our team was young and inexperienced and naturally some of our decision-making on the mat was poor,” said Thakur.

“But this year, with the inclusion of Manjeet [Chillar], Jasvir [Singh]  and Sukesh [Hegde], we have that much needed experience in the side. And I believe a team with a good mix of youth and experience will triumph,” he said.

Last season’s MVP Pardeep Narwal will lead the champion side Patna Pirates in the new season. The 20-year-old raider looks to make new records and help his team lift a fourth-consecutive Pro Kabaddi trophy.

The league has more youngsters leading teams this time. Vishal Bharadwaj,21, will captain Telugu Titans after replacing Rahul Chaudhari. The Gujarat Fortunegiants will also see a 21-year-old filling the role of captain - Sunil Kumar, who formed a key part of the Gujarat defense which was the best in the league last season.

Anup Kumar, who was a mainstay in the U-Mumba team for the first five seasons, will captain the Jaipur Pink Panthers in the sixth.

The Pro Kabaddi league will continue its existing format and will go on for a duration of 13 weeks. In the fifth season, the league expanded from 8 teams to 12 teams and amassed a viewership of 313 million.

The final of fifth edition was the most viewed non-cricket sporting event on Indian television.

Season 6 kicks-off on Sunday as the Tamil Thalaivas meet defending champion Patna Pirates at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.