The team will play under the coaching of Manpreet Singh this season.
Haryana Steelers finished 7th in Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 8 under the guidance of coach Rakesh Kumar. Ahead of season 9, they have made several changes bringing in coach Manpreet Singh from Gujarat Giants. Haryana in their short stint at the PKL has qualified for the playoffs twice and would be looking to finish higher this time.
Manpreet Singh has a wealth of experience captaining Patna Pirates (season 3) in lifting the title and guiding Gujarat Giants to finals twice in seasons 6 and 7. His aggressiveness off the pitch is what he is known for and will look to replicate it with Haryana Steelers.
In this article let’s look at the squad preview with their strength and weakness.
The defence on paper looks pretty strong retaining the cover duo of (left cover) Jaideep and (right cover) Mohit. Jaideep in particular had a tremendous season scoring 66 tackle points in 22 matches in his debut season. He also finished 2nd in the total tackle points standings and has an assist rate of 57%.
Mohit the right-cover defender scored 42 points in 22 matches and is best known for his ankle hold. The retention of both these players will add more value to the team as they will have experience in their hands this season having played a full season.
Joginder Narwal will pair with Amirhossein Bastami from Iran. Bastami played a crucial role in the 2019 World Junior Kabaddi Championship title run. Joginder previously captained Dabang Delhi to glory in season 7 scoring 49 tackle points in 22 matches. But his performance dipped the next season forcing Delhi to release him.
In the past, we have seen how Dharamraj Cheralathan defied age and perform better the same applies to Joginder Narwal.
Manpreet Singh prefers defenders to be aggressive which was quite evident when he was with Gujarat Titans. The same approach can be expected in season 9 with Haryana Steelers as well.
The raiding department does not possess any high-quality raider who can score more than 200 points single-handedly. Haryana has brought in Manjeet, Prapanjan, Prpanjan, and Meetu with Vinay being retained.
Both Manjeet and Prapanjan were with Tamil Talaivas last season with the latter suffering from injuries. Talaivas bought Manjeet for 90 lakhs but he could not fulfil their expectations as the main primary raider.
Manjeet was good with taking the bonus but needs to make use of this height when there are fewer defenders which is an area of concern. He has a lot of experience playing for Jaipur previously and would be a vital cog this season.
Prapanjan on the other hand played under Manjeet when he was in Gujarat and had a good season with Bengal Warrior lifting the title. His career has been topsy turvy with not much consistency. He will be a secondary raider is has good skills in taking bonuses when required.
Rakesh Narwal can be an underdog who performs well under crucial junctures but those are not reflected in this points tally. This season he needs to raid more to complement Manjeet.
Vinay has been with Haryana for a few seasons and this year has been retained. He will be very handy in reviving the primary raiders which shall be his primary role. Overall if we see on paper all the raiders look good but have not had success in the previous seasons.
Players to watch out for.
Meetu the lanky tall raider looks like a bright young talent who made his debut last season. He can make use of his height when there are few or more defenders. The other one will be Lovepreet Singh the raider who recently played at the Khelo India Games.
There is depth in raiding but the youngsters need to be groomed well for the future.
Manjeet Singh never relies on star players to win titles. He believes in teamwork and most importantly makes the defence strong. Previously he groomed Sachin who has now gone on to become a star player for Patna.
Manjeet also assigns players their respective roles and if we see Mahendra Ganesh Rajput he would raid for bonuses and do or die raids apart from this we couldn’t see him play regularly. But he went on to become a crucial raider at difficult times and his role to perfection.
The same shall be seen at Haryana Steelers, who do not have huge stars to play with but have the quality to reach the playoffs.