These players had taken the tournament by storm in the previous edition.
The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 7 proved to be yet another interesting season, full of twists and turns. A new system was introduced, in which the double round-robin system replaced the previous zonal system.
Bengal Warriors captured their maiden title, after ousting Dabang Delhi K.C. 39-34 in the final held at the TransStadia Arena in Ahmedabad. Some new players along with other seasoned performers stole the limelight in PKL 2019.
We take a look at the top five raiders of season 7, who took the PKL by storm:
5. Maninder Singh
Despite making his last appearance of the season in only the penultimate league stage match, Maninder Singh still finds his place in this list. This goes onto show what an influential season he had. Singh made a promising start to his Pro Kabaddi League career, helping the Jaipur Pink Panthers win the inaugural edition of the league. He received lots of acclaims, having scored the most raid points that season. After an incredible start to his career, he sustained a serious injury that ruled him out of the next three seasons.
He made his comeback in season 5 with Bengal Warriors. And two years later, he showed his true worth. Despite dislocating his shoulder in the penultimate league stage match, he was a vocal presence from the touchline in the remaining matches. Bengal Warriors, eventually went onto clinch their maiden league title, with Singh being the instigator. His ability to outwit defenders and his calculated manoeuvres helped him collect 205 points in 20 matches.
4. Siddharth Sirish Desai
Siddharth Sirish Desai is relatively a new name on the PKL scene. He made his debut only in season 6 with U Mumba. Desai scored a Super 10 in his very first match, to announce his arrival in grand fashion. The same season he went onto become the fastest player to reach 50 raid points, having taken just four matches to reach the feat. In fact, Desai recorded his first five Super 10s in just six matches.
This incredible start to his career prompted Telugu Titans to go big and acquire his services for season 7. He was the costliest player in the auction, going for a whopping sum of Rs. 1.45 crore. The Titans released Rahul Chaudhari, one of the league’s well-known faces, in order to accommodate Desai in the squad. He took to the stage alongside his brother Suraj Desai for the Telugu Titans. Despite his best efforts, the Telugu Titans finished second bottom in the standings. Overall, he registered 220 points in 22 matches.
3. Naveen Kumar
He is another new arrival in the Indian kabaddi circuit. The promising youngster made his bow for Dabang Delhi K.C. in season 6, becoming the first player born in the 21st century to feature in the league. Naveen Kumar led his team to the playoffs in his maiden season.
The following season he took his game to a whole new level. Kumar registered a phenomenal 22 Super 10s in 23 matches, which meant he now holds the record for most Super 10s in a season and most consecutive Super 10s. Blessed with explosive speed and cat-like reflexes, Kumar was instrumental in guiding Dabang Delhi K.C. all the way to the final. The youngster has rapidly become an offensive juggernaut and will be an asset in the national team setup. And it is hard to argue after seeing the 21-year-old grab 303 points in 23 matches!
2. Pardeep Narwal
No top raiders list would be complete without Pardeep Narwal, the best raider in the league’s history. Narwal arrived late in the scene and was a slow starter who made his Pro Kabaddi League debut in season 2 with Bengaluru Bulls. Having scored just nine points in six matches, he made the switch to Patna Pirates the following year. It proved to be a match made in heaven. Since then, the boy from Sonipat has continued to dominate the league.
Narwal has swiftly become one of the most consistent players in the league and has also established himself in the national team setup. He has claimed the Most Valuable Player Award on two occasions and has been at the forefront of Patna Pirates’ three successive PKL title-winning campaigns. Surprisingly enough, the Pirates had a poor season this time around finishing eighth in the standings and failed to make it through to the latter stages. However, on a personal level, the “Dubki King” continues to set the bar high, having scored 304 points in 20 matches.
1. Pawan Kumar Sehrawat
He burst into life in PKL season 6 with Bengaluru Bulls. However, it must be said that Pawan Kumar Sehrawat was not an instant hit in the league, having made his first appearance way back in season 3 for the same outfit. He had also donned the colours of Gujarat Fortune Giants in between. In season 6, Sehrawat finished as the league’s leading scorer to end the Pardeep Narwal-Rahul Chaudhari duopoly. Against his former employers, he scored 22 points in the final, to lead the Bulls to their maiden league title. He was adjudged as the Most Valuable Player that season.
The “Hi-Flyer” carried on from where he left off in season 7. His ability to bamboozle defenders with his long reach and lower body strength makes him a unique attacking force. Sehrawat was a crucial component in the Bengaluru Bulls’ run to the semi-finals, finishing the season with 360 points in 24 matches. Later that year, he was a vital cog in the wheel of the Indian national team that romped to the South Asian Games title in Kathmandu. Aged just 24, the best days of Pawan Kumar Sehrawat is yet to come!