Panchkula (Haryana): Aiming to lift the Pro Kabaddi League title for the first time in their history, the Haryana Steelers on Wednesday (July 17) announced Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula as their official centre for the seventh season of the competition. The JSW Sports-owned franchise also named the experienced defender Dharmaraj Cheralathan as their team captain for the upcoming season.

The Haryana Steelers were formed in 2017 and qualified for the play-offs in their very first season. Based out of the city of Sonipat previously, the franchise has decided to shift base to Panchkula in order to continue their pursuit of popularising the sport throughout the state of Haryana. Organisers of the Pro Kabaddi League had earlier announced Panchkula as a new venue where a total of 11 league matches will take place.

The franchise, which has appointed former India captain Rakesh Kumar as their head coach, also named the vastly experienced Dharmaraj Cheralathan as captain, and will count on the 44-year-old’s immense experience and understanding of the game to lead them to the playoffs and beyond this season.

Haryana Steelers head coach Rakesh Kumar and captain Dharmaraj Cheralathan

Cheralathan was present at the occasion in Panchkula along with Kumar, who backed the Steelers’ young squad to perform well in the upcoming season.

“We have a very good mix of players in the team and in Dharmaraj, an experienced leader to lead them through the season. We have had a good pre-season camp at the Inspire Institute of Sport over the past months and the team is raring to start this season with an eye on the Pro Kabaddi League trophy," said the former Indian captain, who is a veteran of two World Cups and three Asian Games gold medal winning teams.

JSW Sports CEO Mustafa Ghouse, who was also present on the occasion, said he was delighted with the decision to choose Panchkula as the Steelers’ official centre.

"Kabaddi is a sport that is followed throughout the state of Haryana, and we wanted to make sure that we also give our fans in Panchkula the opportunity to experience world-class action. The team is scheduled to play four matches in the city this season, and we look forward to our fans coming to the stadium to see their favourite players perform. I am also delighted to announce that Dharmaraj Cheralathan will be captaining the team and would like to wish him and the team all the very best for the season ahead," said Ghouse.

Haryana Steelers will start their Pro Kabaddi League season against Puneri Paltan on Monday (July 22) at 8.30 pm IST at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.