Jaipur Pink Panthers won the inaugural edition of the Pro Kabaddi League.
Kabaddi until 2014 was only popular in certain parts of India like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana etc but since the start of the Pro Kabaddi League, it has been the second most popular league only behind IPL (Indian Premier League). Before 2014 there were many legendary players like K. Baskaran (current coach of Bengal Warriors), Rajarathinam, Raju Bhavsar etc who have won several accolades winning the Asian Games multiple times but have not been popular among the common people.
The introduction of the Pro Kabaddi League changed the entire dynamics of the sport especially the financial aspect as now players are able to earn more professionally. Also, not many foreign players were popular but Iranian players made use of the league exceptionally well bringing in loads of talent season after season. Iran for the first time won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games having played high-profile matches and getting to know Indian players very well through PKL.
The auction was held for the first time with Deepak Niwas Hooda the priciest player getting sold to Telugu Titans for 12.90 lakhs. Not far behind was the star all-rounder Rakesh Kumar who was sold to Patna Pirates for 12.80 lakhs. Among the foreign contingent Mostafa Noudehi was the costliest buy for 6.60 lakhs sold to Puneri Paltan.
Matches – 16
Raid Points – 155
Anup Kumar the icon player for U Mumba and became a fan favourite in the first season itself. His toe touches and bonus skill made him stand out among other raiders. He led U Mumba to its maiden PKL finals ultimately losing to champions Jaipur Pink Panthers.
Matches – 14
Raid Points – 151
The poster boy of PKL made his presence felt since the opening encounter and had average raid points per match greater than 10 which was the highest overall. Telugu Titans couldn’t qualify for the playoffs finishing in the fifth spot but overall had a great season.
Manjeet Chillar and Surender Nada (51)
Manjeet Chillar represented Bengaluru Bulls while Surender Nada was part of the U Mumba franchise. In the first season itself, both defenders crossed the 50 tackle points mark which in itself was a huge achievement.
Dharamraj Cheralathan (39)
Dharamraj Cheralatha called “Anna” was in his high 30s but never looked short of aggressiveness on the mat. He was a corner defender and his strong weapon was the ankle hold. He continued to play for many franchises even after turning 40 and also won a PKL title with Patna Pirates in season 4.
Surendar Nada – 5
Suresh Kumar – 4
Suresh Kumar represented Patna Pirates in the initial parts of the PKL.
Anup Kumar – 10
Rahul Chaudhari – 8
Kalimuthu Balamahendran – 6
Kalimuthu represented Puneri Paltan in season 1.
Sandeep Narwal – 6
Anup Kumar – 8
Sandeep Narwal – 7
Sandeep Narwal in the initial seasons of PKL was a complete all-around package scoring points equally in the attack and defence section. He had the capacity to go for solo tackles and succeed as well through back holds.
Under the leadership of Navneet Gautam and coach K.Baskaran Jaipur lifted the inaugural trophy defeating favourites U Mumba in the finals. Maninder Singh was the star raider of the Jaipur franchise which was brought by Abhishek Bachhan. Captain Navneet Gautum the left-corner defender led the team well and was also an integral part of the Indian team in the early 2010s.