Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) team Haryana Steelers on Wednesday announced that Panchkula’s Tau Devi Lal Stadium would be their official centre for the seventh season, PKL 2019. The franchise also named veteran defender Dharmraj Cheralathan its captain for the 2019 edition of the league, which starts from July 20.
In the presence of JSW Sports CEO Mustafa Ghouse, Haryana Steelers’ coach Rakesh Kumar said, “Dharmaraj is the most experienced player in our team, so we have appointed him the Steelers captain.”
Last season, Haryana Steelers had been jolted by a string of injuries to their key players. First, Surender Nada, who had been made the side’s captain before the start of PKL 2018, was knocked out following an injury. Later stand-in captain Monu Goyat also had to miss a large part of the tournament due to injury. The Steelers management had to ask Vikas Kandola to lead the team in the absence of Monu Goyat.
The Steelers coach added: “I asked Vikas Kandola to lead the team this season but he refused and suggested Dharmaraj’s name. We agreed to this, given that the veteran all-rounder has a vast experience and can control the team on mat. Last year, there was no one to control the team and that affected Haryana Steelers.”
Haryana Steelers, one of the four Pro Kabaddi League debutants in season five, had qualified for the play-offs in their first season. However, they failed to continue their form and crashed out in the league stage last year, forcing the team management to make major changes. They retained raider Vikas Kandola in the Pro Kabaddi 2019 auction, and bagged Prashant Kumar Rai for Rs 77 lakh, strengthening their raiding unit.
Speaking of injuries in long tournaments like PKL, coach Rakesh Kumar said: “This time we are a young team less prone to injuries. Also, I have marked two players for every position — be it left or right corner — to be used depending on the match situation.”
JSW Sports’ Ghouse said he was delighted with the decision to choose Panchkula as Steelers’ official centre. “Kabaddi is a sport that is followed throughout the state of Haryana, and we wanted to make sure that we also gave our fans in Panchkula the opportunity to experience world-class action. The team is scheduled to play four matches in the city this season,” he added.