‘Paltan must win the title this time’

The former Jaipur coach K Bhaskaran joins Pune ahead of the fourth season of Pro Kabaddi League

Kasinathan Baskaran was the man responsible for the success of the Jaipur Pink Panthers in the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League. The former Asian gold medallist in kabaddi, has been roped in by Puneri Paltan to shape up their preparations for Season 4 starting this month.

Baskaran, who will be assisting chief coach Ashok Shinde, says that the Paltan team has improved tremendously in the last season. Despite a good performance, they missed out on a title in Season 3, but considering the early preparations and current squad selection, the Paltan must win the title this time, he says

“I have seen Paltan as a rival team when I was coaching Jaipur Pink Panthers. We had noticed some weaknesses and we tried to take advantage of them. However, with the inclusion of Manjeet Chillar and Ajay Thakur, along with some other quality players, the Pune team has overcome their weak elements. The way they came back strongly in the last season was quite impressive,” said Baskaran.

The coach who had to quit his job in Jaipur due to personal reasons, says there won’t be much of a difference in working with a new team.

“There won’t be a major challenge, as I have been associated with the league for the past three years. I have seen these players in action up close, I know their strengths, their weaknesses. Some of the players like Sonu Narwal, were in the Jaipur team with me. Most importantly, coach Ashok Shinde is a good friend of mine. We have played together in the Indian team and for Air India. And now we will be working together as coaches.

“We have a good understanding and that will come in handy,” he said. Baskaran was also impressed with the preparatory camp of Paltan.

“I must say that Pune’s team management is excellent. The players are concentrating on fitness, diet and discipline. Whenever they have any issues, they sit and discuss them with the management. It’s a very positive sign for any team,” he said. 

Puneri Paltan created waves in Season 3 by reaching the third position in the league, scoring 48 points under the leadership of Manjeet Chillar. The team is now looking forward to a roaring participation in Season 4, starting June 26. Chillar, Deepak Hooda and Ajay Thakur were the star players of the previous season, and will continue to be so for the team this season too. The new players that have joined the Puneri Paltan are Ravinder Pahal (right corner, defender), Sonu Narwal (raider), Preetam Chhillar (all-rounder), Joginder Narwal (left corner, defender), Anil Nimbolkar (raider), Jay Bahadur Bohara (raider), Ketut Ariana (defender), Khomson Thongkham (raider), Parmod Narwal (all-rounder), and Gurpreet Singh (defender).

Amongst them, Sonu Narwal is a big catch for the Pune team. The DSP in Haryana Police, was part of Indian team that won an Asian gold medal in 2010, defeating Iran. 

For the defence, Paltan has former Dabang Delhi captain Ravinder Pahal. The Haryana defender was the one of the best defenders in Season 2, after he made 53 successful tackles. Though, he wasn’t very impressive in the last season, he is likely to find his form again under the guidance of K Baskaran.

Puneri Paltan players in action in season 3. (Above) Assistant coach K Bhaskaran (c) along with Manjeet Chillar (R) and Ajay Thakur unveiling the team jersy

“We are very happy with our performance last season and we are delighted to have some of our old players back. We are glad to have such experienced and talented players in our team. The players are overwhelmed with joy as the opening leg of the league for Season 4 is scheduled to start in Pune, our home ground, where we feel we will get a lot of positivity in our performance and delivery. We are confident that the team will put up a stellar performance this season,” said Kailash Kandpal, team manager of Puneri Paltan.

Captain Chillar said, “Our boys are excited to play in front of the home crowd. Puneri Paltan fans always come out in huge numbers to support us and my team won’t let the Puneites down.”

Team: Manjeet Chhillar, Deepak Niwas Hooda, Preetam Chhillar, Parmod Narwal, Joginder Narwal, Somvir Shekhar, Ravinder Pahal, Gurpreet Singh, Ajay Thakur, Sonu Narwal, Anil Nimbolkar, I Ketut Ariana, Khomsan Thongkham, Jay Bahadur Bohara, Virender Chhillar, Dalbir, Akshay Jadhav.

Originally published on The Golden Sparrow

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