Pro Kabaddi League: Panchkula to be home ground for Haryana Steelers, team buckles up with new coach, captain

Nitin Sharma
(Right to left) Captain Dharmraj Cheralathan, coach Rakesh Kumar and CEO Mustafa Ghouse of Haryana Steelers during a press conference at Panchkula, Wednesday. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

Two years after Haryana Steelers made their debut in the Pro Kabaddi League, the team will have a new home ground, in Panchkula, along with 44-year-old Dharamraj Cherlathan, as its new captain for the seventh season of the league.

The team, which finished at the bottom of Zone A last year, will play at its home leg at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in September this year and the 18-member team is expected to deliver a better performance under its newly appointed coach Rakesh Kumar, in the league starting next week.

The team had a two-month long training stint at Inspire Institute of Sports, Vijaynagar in Andhra Pradesh and it also gave me an opportunity to try various combinations, which will work for the team in the Pro Kabaddi League this season. We have a combination of young players and senior players. I am sure that the team will be aiming for the title under the captaincy of Dharamraj Cherlathan. He has been my captain in Indian Railways too and he is one of the most experienced players in the league. Haryana has been the home to some of the top kabaddi players in the country and it will be good to play our home matches in Panchkula, Kumar said.

Haryana Steelers was one of the new franchise teams, which made their way into the Pro Kabaddi League in 2016. The team qualified for the eliminators in their first season before they lost to eventual champions, Patna Pirates. Last year, the team finished at the bottom of the Zone A, which consisted of six teams out of the 12 teams. This time, the team is banking on players like Vikas Kandola, who was the seventh highest scorer with 177 points in the league last year, and 35-year-old Prashanth Kumar Rai, one of the experienced raiders with 321 points in 81 matches in the league so far.

I am excited for the challenge ahead. As a captain, the main aim is to help the team reach the finals and win the title. If we play well as a team, we can achieve that. We have got some experienced raiders and the execution of plans on the mat will be the key to a good campaign for us, said Haryana Steelers captain, Dharamraj Cherlathan.