Many youngsters performed exceptional this season.
The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 9 has come to end after 137 matches and Jaipur Pink Panthers after winning the inaugural trophy are crowned the champions for the second time defeating Puneri Paltan in the finals. There were many youngsters who performed well in their maiden season. Tamil Thailavas’ performance was a surprise to many who qualified for the playoffs for the first time in the history of PKL without their primary raider and defender (Pawan Sehrawat and Sagar Rathee).
Saurabh Nandal (Right Corner)
Saurabh Nandal from Bengaluru Bulls scored 72 tackle points in PKL 9 and occupies the third spot in the tackle points table. He was retained by Bengaluru Bulls and has performed to the best and has led the defence in the presence of captain Mahender Singh. Saurabh got good support from Aman the left-corner defender and the combination came good in the latter part of the league.
Ankush Rathee (Left Corner)
Ankush Rathee in his debut season has won both the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 9 title and the best defender award. Sanjeev Baliyan rated the player highly who was part of the Khelo India Youth Games held earlier this year. He finished the league with 89 tackle points topping the tackle points chart ahead of an experienced defender like Chiyaneh. The youngster will most likely be retained by Jaipur ahead of the next season.
Sunil Kumar (Right Cover)
The cover defender from Jaipur Pink Panthers led the team from the front when it mattered the most. Sunil Kumar in the past for Gujarat Giants has lost two back-to-back finals but this time his experience played a major role. In the finals, he scored a high 5 and made sure the game was in the balance throughout. Sanjeev Baliyan in the press conference said ”Sunil asks me to be calm and composed during the match and takes care of the team on the mat” (captain cool).
Vishal (Left Cover)
The cover defender from Dabang Delhi is the only defender who crossed the 50 tackle points mark in PKL season 9. Vishal on a whole had a good season but could perform well only in phases. He did not get enough support from others which could have been the reason but somehow made it through to the playoffs.
Arjun Deshwal (Left In)
Arjun Deshwal fell just short of four points to breach the 300 points mark. He led the team single-handedly in attack when none of the other raiders was scoring points consistently. Ajith Kumar towards the end supported Arjun Deshwal the primary reason for Jaipur lifting the trophy. He was injured in the middle but even then made his presence felt and scored points. With 296 points Arjun Deshwal was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the season.
Bharat (Right In)
Bharat shall be regarded as the “crisis man” for Bengaluru Bulls scoring 279 raid points in PKL 9. He has helped the team bailout in many situations when they were trailing by more than ten points in the second half. The tall lad is another talent Randhir Singh Sehrawat has produced after Pawan Sehrawat and is likely to become a star in the upcoming seasons.
Narender Kandola (Centre)
Narender Kandola is regarded as the “Dubki king” by the experts after Pardeep Narwal. Not many have mastered the dubki skill apart from Pardeep and the youngster on many occasions has scored points using the skill. He finished the PKL season 9 with 243 raid points occupying the fourth spot in the raid points table ahead of Maninder Singh. He has broken several records this season:
1) Most points in a debut season breaking Siddharth Desai’s (218).
2) Fastest to 200 raid points again breaking Siddharth Desai’s record (18).
3) Most super 10s in a debut season.
4) Most points for Tamil Thalaivas in a single season (243) a record held by Ajay Thakur.
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