Some of these stars have become household names over the years.
The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has been instrumental in giving a professional touch to India’s very own indigenous sport. Ever since its inception in 2014, the league has proved to be a big success.
A total of 12 teams currently ply their trade in the PKL, with Patna Pirates being the most successful team in the league with three titles. Bengal Warriors are the defending champions, having won their first league crown in 2019. The recent years have seen several players going on to become household names in various parts of the country.
We take a look at the top five players who have scored the most number of points so far in the history of the league:
5. Maninder Singh
Maninder 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. However, after the incredible start to his career, he sustained a serious injury that ruled him out of the next three seasons.
Singh made his comeback in season 5 with Bengal Warriors. It is two years later in season 7 of the Pro Kabaddi League where he proved his real mettle. 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 have helped him collect 740 points in just 79 matches.
4. Ajay Thakur
The World Cup-winning former national team captain is widely considered as the “King of Kabaddi”. And it is not hard to see why! He is one of the leading raiders in the history of the league.
Thakur loves pressure situations and he had delivered his best on the biggest stage. With India trailing to Iran in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup final, he dragged India out by scoring a 4-point raid. His signature frog jump move is a sight to behold. Thakur has plied his trade for three clubs – Bengaluru Bulls, Puneri Paltan and Tamil Thalaivas, however, the league title continues to elude him. Overall, he has scored 811 points in 115 matches.
3. Deepak Niwas Hooda
From one Indian national team skipper to another, the current Indian captain is considered one of the fittest players in the Pro Kabaddi League. Deepak Niwas Hooda was part of the victorious Jaipur Pink Panthers squad but came to prominence while playing for Puneri Paltan in season 3.
The all-rounder began to consistently top the do-or-die raids and became one of the leading raiders. Hooda’s rise has been meteoric since making his national team debut in the South Asian Games in 2016. He has also been one of the most successful all-rounders in the recent editions. Hooda’s ability to cope under pressure is evident from his stats, having racked up a total of 943 points in 123 matches.
2. Rahul Chaudhari
Rahul Chaudhari is one of the most recognisable names in the sport. He is one of only two players to have broken the 1000 points mark in the league. He won the Best Raider award in season 4 and has since continued to be the trendsetter in raids.
Chaudhari’s flair and flamboyant raiding style have earned him the nickname “Showman”. His signature running hand touch move has caught several opponents by surprise over the years. Despite enviable personal stats, the league title has proved too hard to come by. Hence, after six straight seasons with Telugu Titans, Chaudhari made the move further south to team up with Ajay Thakur at Tamil Thalaivas. His 1014 points acquired in 122 matches will only get better over the coming years.
1. Pardeep Narwal
Pardeep Narwal made his Pro Kabaddi League debut only in season 2 with Bengaluru Bulls, scoring just nine points in six matches. The following year, he made the switch to Patna Pirates. 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 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. The “Dubki King” continues to set the bar high having scored the most points in a single raid and the most points in a single season in the latest edition. Narwal’s 1169 points in just 107 matches will take some beating.