The team had a great combination of young and experienced players.
Jaipur Pink Panthers won the second PKL title after winning the inaugural season. They were one of the most consistent teams in PKL season 9 losing only six matches out of the 24 matches played overall. “Raiders win you matches but defenders win you tournaments” is a statement made by many experts which can be related to Jaipur. Jaipur is the only team which had three players scoring 50 plus tackle points (Sahul Kumar, Ankush, and Sunil) making them defence-heavy.
1. Arjun Deshwal
Arjun Deshwal was declared the “Most Valuable Player” of the PKL season 9 scoring 296 raid points and falling just short of reaching the 300 points mark. Overall the star raider scored the most super 10s(17) and average raid points per match (12.33). The next best raider for Jaipur was Ajith Kumar scoring 103 points which is a difference of more than 150 points. The consistency has been tremendous scoring back-to-back 250-plus raid points.
2. Ankush Rathee
The Jaipur Pink Panthers’ defender scored the most tackle points of the season (89) in just his debut season. Ankush was drafted into the squad after his performances at the Khelo India Youth Games. Overall the defender scored nine super 5s and played a crucial part in the playoffs scoring eight tackle points in two matches. The average number of points per match is close to four.
3. Sunil Kumar
The captain led the team from the front in the finals and was relatively very calm throughout the season. Sunil had the experience of playing in the finals before for Gujarat Giants and that experience helped him this season. The cover defender scored 64 tackle points ending the season in the top 5 on the tackle points list.
Underperformer of the season
Ajith Kumar was brought with high expectations in the auctions for 66 lakhs as a secondary raider. The raider scored only 103 raid points not giving enough support to primary raider Arjun Deshwal. The raider though caught up by scoring back-to-back super 10s in the fag end helping him get to the 100 raid points mark.
Manager’s report card
Sanjeev Baliyan is one of the most experienced coaches in the Pro Kabaddi League having already won the title as the head coach in season 3 with Patna Pirates. This season he used his resources pretty well and gave full support to captain Sunil Kumar on the mat giving equal importance to his suggestions. Sanjeev also unearthed good talents like Ankush Rathee and Abhishek KS giving them good game time.
Lessons to be learned
The lack of support for Arjun Deshwal in the raiding department was one area of concern but Arjun single-handedly took care which did not make Jaipur Pink Panthers suffer. Going ahead into next season the coach has to look in for sufficient raiders and also look out for NYPs who can make a good impact in the raiding department.
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