Franchises spent big bucks to strengthen their squads ahead of the upcoming season.
After a year’s hiatus, the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is back for its eighth season. Before that, the 12 teams were given the opportunity to set up their dream lineup, as some of the top stars went under the hammer.
The PKL has always been a competition that values talent ahead of everything. Hence, with several star players available at the auction, teams splashed the money on their desired players. Pardeep Narwal broke all auction records, as he was sold to the UP Yoddha for a whopping ₹1.65 crores. Meanwhile, the likes of Siddharth Desai, Arjun Deshwal and Manjeet Dahiya also went for big bucks.
Let us take a look at the top 10 most expensive signings at the PKL 8 auctions:
10. Shirikant Jadhav- UP Yoddha ( ₹72 lakhs FBM)
Known for his signature toe touch, Shirikant Jadhav went for big bucks to UP Yoddha. The 25-year-old raider started his career in Pro Kabaddi League Season 3 with the Bengal Warriors and gradually grew in stature in Season 5 for U Mumba.
He worked together with Anup Kumar at the U Mumba setup and hence had his breakthrough season with them. Jadhav then joined UP Yoddha and became one of the best raiders in the league. He was wanted by several teams, but the UP Yoddha decided to retain him by using the FBM card.
9. Ravinder Pahal- Gujarat Giants ( ₹74 lakhs)
Nicknamed as ‘The Hawk’ for his sharp instincts in defence, Ravinder Pahal is easily the best right corner in the league at the moment. The 28-year-old has registered the second-most tackle points in Pro Kabaddi League history.
Pahal started a bidding war between the Puneri Paltan and the Gujarat Giants. At last, the former Dabangg Delhi man was snapped up by the Giants. He will fortify their defence for the upcoming season.
8. PO Surjeet Singh- Tamil Thalaivas ( ₹75 lakhs)
The 31-year-old right cover is one of the most reliable defenders in the Pro Kabaddi League right now. Surjeet was with Puneri Paltan last season, scoring 66 tackle points. A lot of teams were showing interest in him, starting from the Bengaluru Bulls and Dabangg Delhi, but he finally ended up joining the Tamil Thalaivas.
Surjeet will add valuable experience to the Thalaivas and will lead the team with his solid defending. It looks like he will have to take charge in defence, as they have a bunch of youngsters.
7. Chandran Ranjit- Bengaluru Bulls ( ₹80 lakhs)
This can turn out to be a great addition for the Bengaluru Bulls, as Chandran Ranjit joins their team for the upcoming PKL season. Last season there were times when star raider Pawan Shehrawat felt left alone, but with Ranjit’s arrival, things may change rapidly for the Bulls.
The 31-year-old raider can play second fiddle to Shehrawat and will reduce the burden of scoring points from his shoulders. Ranjit scored 126 points in PKL 7 for Dabangg Delhi, hence proving his worth as a raider.
6. Rohit Gulia- Haryana Steelers ( ₹83 lakhs)
The Haryana Steelers are looking for their first Pro Kabaddi League title in the upcoming season, hence they have signed some big names. They went all out for Rohit Gulia, one of the best all-rounders in the league, currently. Gulia will pair up with Vikash Kandola and will also look to develop a strong understanding with experienced defender Surender Nada.
The young all-rounder raised a lot of interest from different franchises, but the Steelers were adamant that they wanted Gulia. He spent three seasons with the Gujarat Giants before this and was their highest scorer with 142 raid points last season. Therefore, the Steelers will have high hopes from the youngster.
5. Sachin Tanwar- Patna Pirates (₹84 lakhs)
Another player who spent his entire Pro Kabaddi League career at Gujarat Giants, Sachin Tanwar was picked up by the Patna Pirates for the upcoming season. The 22-year-old raider has a fearless attitude that makes him one of the top prospects in the PKL. He was part of the Giants last season and scored 91 raid points.
With Pardeep Narwal gone and the Pirates keen to start afresh, a lot of hopes will be on Sanchin Tanwar to come out with a big statement. He will be well supported by the likes of Monu Goyat, Jang Kun Lee and Prasanth Kumar Rai in the raiding department.
4. Manjeet Dahiya – Tamil Thalaivas ( ₹92 lakhs)
Manjeet made his debut in Pro Kabaddi League Season 6 with the Patna Pirates and there he mainly played as a second raider to Narwal. However, he has gradually grown in stature as a player, as he featured for the Puneri Paltan last season and scored 123 points.
The 25-year-old raider uses his height to his advantage in raiding. He also has the grit and determination to eke out points in tight situations, therefore, justifying the big bucks paid by the Thalaivas.
3. Arjun Deshwal- Jaipur Pink Panthers ( ₹96 lakhs)
Probably one of the most surprising names in this list has to be of former U Mumba raider Arjun Deshwal. He became the most expensive signing on Day 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League 8 auctions. The Telegu Titans and the Jaipur Pink Panthers were engaged in a bidding war, but the latter finally managed to seal the deal.
After making his debut in PKL 6, the U Mumba raider made a name for himself in the following season. He, alongside Abhishek Singh, led the raiding charge for U Mumba and guided them to the semi-finals. He scored 104 raid points last time out. Arjun will act as second fiddle to Deepak Hooda, as the Pink panthers look forward to a solid PKL season.
2. Siddharth Desai- Telugu Titans ( ₹1.30 crores FBM)
One of the most dangerous raiders in PKL history, Siddharth Desai was last season’s most expensive buy at ₹1.45 crores. Nicknamed the ‘Bahubali,’ Desai is fierce with his approach and has made a name for himself ever since his debut season with U Mumba.
He made his debut in PKL 6 for U Mumba and the rest as they say is history, as he bagged 218 raid points and was judged as the Emerging Player of the Year. He followed it up with another top performance for the Titans, as he finished Season 7 with 220 raid points. A lot of teams were involved in the bidding war for the highly talented raider, but UP Yoddha won the bid. However, the Titans exercised their FBM card to retain their star raider.
1. Pardeep Narwal – UP Yoddha ( ₹1.65 crores)
Lastly, the most anticipated player Pardeep Narwal went under the hammer for the first time in Pro Kabaddi League history. The star raider, who is considered one of the greatest of the game, led the Patna Pirates to three consecutive PKL titles. However, it was surprising to see them not retain Narwal for the upcoming season. Hence, he became the highest earner with a stunning bid of ₹1.65 crores from the UP Yoddha.
Still only 24, Narwal became the only player in the history of the league to breach the 1000-point mark. He finished last season with the third-highest points (317), only behind Naveen Kumar and Pawan Sehrawat. The Dubki King will look to link up with Shrikant Jadhav and lead the Yoddha to their maiden PKL title.