There was a time in history when Maharashtra was the powerhouse of Kabaddi. With traditional clay courts in south Maharashtra, Kabaddi was just as famous as wrestling. But as time passed by, the power began to shift more to North India. Haryana has produced some of the finest superstars of Pro Kabaddi League in the past few years. But there is one man from the district of Kolhapur who has kept the torch burning for Maharashtra – Siddharth Desai!
Here is the story of Siddharth Bahubali Desai, who went from a newbie to Pro Kabaddi League’s second most expensive player in the space of one month.
Siddharth Desai Biography
Siddharth was born on 5th December 1991 in a small village named Hundalewadi in Chandgad Tehsil, Kolhapur. Born in the family of a farmer, his childhood was far from smooth sailing.
Siddharth wanted to be a Kabaddi player just like his elder brother, Suraj. In fact, Suraj has played a crucial role in shaping up his younger brother’s career, teaching him the basics of Kabaddi. But for a kid hailing from a small village of fewer than 100 houses and farming as the only source of income, dreaming big was nearly impossible. Siddharth knew that he had to complete education and get a job to help his family.
The Big Break
Siddharth completed his graduation (BSC, Physics) and got a job in Air India as a contractor. But his love affair with Kabaddi continued. He caught the attention of Air India coach, Ashok Sidhe while practising for the domestic game. Siddharth also played in the Maha Kabaddi League (MKL) with the Thane Tigers in 2015 and 2016. It earned him a place in the Maharashtra side where he went on to win the gold medal at Nationals in 2017. The raider also spent four years in Pune, playing for Satej Kabaddi Team. – Siddharth was carving a Kabaddi path for himself!
During all this, the Pro Kabaddi had created an excellent platform for the sport. And Siddharth’s elder brother missed out on playing the league twice. Suraj, now an army-man was picked by Jaipur Pink Panthers for season one but failed to get the NOC from the army. Once again in season 5, he could not join Dabang Delhi due to an injury.
With his performances at the domestic level, Siddharth grabbed the attention of the U Mumba entourage. The 2015 champions bought the raider for ₹36.4 lakhs for the sixth season of PKL. And a big dreamer from a small village in Maharashtra was now set out fulfil the dream of his own and his elder brother. But even he wouldn’t have imaged what was about to go down throughout the season.
Wreaking Havoc with U Mumba
₹36.4 lakh was not a small amount for a player without any experience in Pro Kabaddi League. But Mumbai-franchise had a lot of faith in Siddharth Desai. And he showed the glimpse of what was about to come in his debut game, winning 15 points against Puneri Paltan.
And Siddharth was just getting started. The raider became the fastest player to reach 50 raid points, needing only four games to do so. In fact, he bagged Super 10 in first five of six games he played. Desai also became the joint-fastest to 100 raid points, reaching the triple-digit figures in just nine games. Rahul Chaudhari is the only other player to get first 100 raid points in nine games.
The raider picked up 218 raid points and a total of 221 points in the sixth season – third-best in the league, only behind Pawan Kumar Sehrawat and Pardeep Narwal. In his 21 games, Siddharth had 12 Super 10s, 10 Super raids and won 41 Do-or-Die raid points. In short, Siddharth’s first season was beyond extraordinary – A one in a million!
The Bahubali: Siddharth Desai
With his exceptional debut season, Siddharth became the new star of the Pro Kabaddi League. He was the first rookie player to win more than 200 points in the debut season. U Mumba decided not to retain him for the seventh season, and it turned out to be a great decision for Siddharth on the personal level.
In the 2019 auction, the 27-year old was signed by Telugu Titans for ₹1.45 crores, making him the most expensive player sold in this year’s auction. Siddharth also became the second most expensive player in PKL history. The Titans lost their star raider Rahul Chaudhary after six years of association. And Siddharth Bahubali Desai has big boots to fill.
And guess what, he is playing alongside his elder brother Suraj, who is also a part of Telugu Titans side – Living the dream together!
Playing Style: Siddharth Desai
Siddharth’s pace and an ability to accelerate out of nowhere helps him catch opposition defenders off guard, making a running hand touch his most dangerous weapon. The raider also has some serious strength to get out of difficult situations and return to the home base safely.