Many Positives Emerge from Steelers' Successful Run to the Playoffs

When the Steelers slumped to their third loss in a row against the Tamil Thalaivas in their fourth match of the season, ardent Kabaddi fans and pundits had made their predictions. Languishing towards the bottom of the pile, the verdict was that the Steelers side might not have what it took to make the Playoffs in Season 7.

The Dhaakad Boys were having none of that. They knew it was still very early in the tournament and they could very well turn this around. What followed was a testament to their resolve.

The Rise of the Steelers

The turnaround began when Vikash Kandola scored his first Super 10 of the Season in a 35-26 win against three-time champions Patna Pirates. In the very next game, Vikash Kandola scored another Super 10 to guide the Steelers to victory against defending champions Bengaluru Bulls. These were ominous signs for the rest of the league. Dhaakadgiri had begun.

The Dhaakad Boys dominated some of these matches, scoring 40+ points against the Fortunegiants, Puneri Paltan and Dabang Delhi K.C. and winning these games by 16, 14 and 22 points respectively.

But it wasn’t all easy going. Dharmaraj’s troops showed nerves of steel and eked out hard-fought 3-point wins against U.P. Yoddha, U Mumba and Bengal Warriors.

From the 7th of August to the 14th of September, the Steelers played 11 matches, losing just one of them. It was a meteoric rise – one that saw them leave the bottom half of the table for good and hover around the 2nd and 3rd position.

Panchkula Diaries

Rakesh Kumar and Dharmaraj took their men to Panchkula brimming with confidence. The team was doing pretty well, and it was time to give Haryana’s die-hard Kabaddi fans something to cherish.

The first match of the home leg saw us take a loss against U.P. Yoddha, but amends were made in the second match. The game against Gujarat Fortunegiants was one for the ages and among the most entertaining matches of the tournament!

The game ebbed and flowed throughout, and the score read 37-37 when the last raid took place. Sunil’s mighty dash had Rohit Gulia out of bounds as the clock ran down and Panchkula erupted in celebration! Haryana Steelers had booked themselves a spot in the Playoffs in front of their home crowd.

An off night against the Bulls followed. Yet again, the Steelers more than made up for it with a dominating display against the Telugu Titans. Vikash Kandola’s 13 raid points and Ravi Kumar’s 7 tackle points headlined our last match in Panchkula and gave the Dhaakad Toli and the rest of the fans a memory of a lifetime!

Heartbreak at EKA

We were drawn to play U Mumba in Eliminator 2 at EKA Arena, Ahmedabad. The team got off on the wrong foot as U Mumba ran away with a lead early in the game. As was characteristic of the Dhaakad Boys, they launched a fine comeback with the raiders leading the way. Vikash Kandola scored 13 points while Prashanth and Vinay combined for 18.

However, the defence couldn’t step up their game. U Mumba managed to pull away every time the Steelers got close and our season ended with a heartbreaking 46-38 loss.

Despite the loss, we’re pretty sure every Steelers fan was proud that night. Proud of the way the Steelers fought in the Eliminator. Proud of the way the Steelers fought the entire season. Above all, they played with heart and the team was proud of themselves.

Having shared a dressing room together for the last three months, they must have made many lasting memories. It was understandable that they took their time to bid the place goodbye.

The Silver Linings

There were loads of positives to look at in the Steelers’ successful run to the Playoffs. With 125 raid points and 3 Super 10s, Vinay was one of the finds of this Pro Kabaddi season. It was his first year in the league, but the youngster showed a lot of maturity and became just the support Vikash Kandola required.

On the defensive end, Ravi Kumar and Sunil made a name for themselves manning the right side of the mat as cover and corner respectively. It was a breakthrough season for the duo, as they both notched up 50+ tackle points in a season for the first time in their careers.

Make no mistake, Rakesh Kumar is a legend of Indian Kabaddi. But this was his first season as a coach, and he did a stellar job of it. One of the youngest coaches in the circuit, Rakesh Kumar inspired his squad every step of the way and ensured we made the Playoffs.

The biggest silver lining this season was how Vikash Kandola a.k.a Udan Kandola well and truly established himself as one of PKL’s superstars. Close to 200 raid points for the season at an average of 9.5 per match is the stuff champion raiders are made of. He scored 11 Super 10s in season 7, only one of which came in a losing cause. Talk about impact!

The Haryana Steelers couldn’t make it past the Eliminator. But, with all these silver linings one can’t help but believe that their run to the Playoffs in PKL 7 is only the start of something bigger.

Looking back, the highs have certainly been more than the lows. The learning for the Dhaakad Boys has been monumental which has set up a base for much bigger things in the future seasons. With immense passion and dedication for the sport, it is safe to say Haryana Steelers is an unstoppable force on the rise.

If they can maintain this core, not a soul would be surprised if they manage to go all the way when PKL 8 comes along.

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