Rahul Chaudhari and Vishal Bhardwaj will reunite for the team in Season 8.

Puneri Paltan made some productive buys at the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season 8 player auction to assemble a balanced squad, blending youth and experience. While the raiding department was boosted by the likes of ‘Showman’ Rahul Chaudhari, accompanying Nitin Tomar, the addition of Vishal Bhardwaj and Baldev Singh has bolstered the corner combination for the side.

With the squad consisting of proven match-winners and coached by the legendary Anup Kumar for a second consecutive edition, Puneri Paltan will aim to win their maiden Pro Kabaddi League trophy, come Season 8. Here’s an in-depth look at the Puneri Paltan squad for the upcoming season.

A Flamboyant Raiding Unit

Puneri Paltan used their Final Bid Match (FBM) card to retain the services of star raider Nitin Tomar for ₹61 lakh to ensure stability in the raiding unit. Tomar has amassed 442 raid points in his PKL career at an average of 6.2 raid points per match. Like the last time, the team will expect him to deliver consistently under crunch situations without letting the pressure get to him.

‘Showman’ Rahul Chaudhari will join forces with Nitin Tomar to lead the offence for Puneri Paltan. The seasoned campaigner is the second-only player to cross 1,000 total points in the league’s history. Although Rahul had an average campaign for Tamil Thalaivas with 130 raid points last season, the 28-year-old will aim to bounce back for his new team, Puneri Paltan.

Kenyan Kabaddi captain Victor Obiero was a smart buy for Puneri Paltan, backed by his performances in do-or-die situations. Apart from him, bargain buys such as E. Subash and Vishwas S. will look to make the most out of the opportunities in Season 8.

A Young Squad

For the team from Pune, youngsters such as Maharashtra-born Pankaj Mohite were instrumental last season. The young raider notched up 110 raid points in 16 games for the side and was consequently retained in the existing New Young Player Category along with left cover defender Sanket Sawant.

The team also retained Pawan Kumar Kadian, Hadi Tajik, and Balasaheb Shahji Jadhav as their Elite Retained Players (ERPs) for Season 8. Pawan Kumar Kadian was the top scorer for the Jaipur Pink Panthers in Season 5 with 122 raid points and the Iranian right corner, Hadi Tajik, has made a name for himself with some impressive body blocks and dashes. Balasaheb Jadhav was the second-best defender for the Pune-based franchise with 36 tackle points in the seventh edition.

Puneri Paltan also claimed the services of two New Young Players (NYPs) at the auction – Mohit Goyat and Govind Gurjar. Mohit Goyat had raided exceptionally well for the bronze-winning Haryana in the 47th Junior National Kabaddi Championship. Rajasthan-based left cover Govind Gurjar had a memorable outing for his state in the 68th Senior National Kabaddi Championship. It will be interesting to see how the team utilizes their potential in vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 8.

A Lethal Corner Combination

Puneri Paltan snapped the Himachal Pradesh-based corner duo of Vishal Bhardwaj and Baldev Singh for ₹60 lakh each at the Pro Kabaddi League player auction. Both defenders have shared the same mat for many years on the domestic circuit and could wreak havoc against the opposition raiders in Season 8.

Former Telugu Titans ace left corner Vishal Bhardwaj has been the most consistent performer in the past three seasons, scoring a minimum of 60 tackle points in each edition. Baldev Singh was instrumental in the Bengal Warriors’ dream run in Season 7 as the right corner snapped 66 tackle points for the trophy winners.

The silver medalist from Services – Sombir Gulia has shown his calibre irrespective of the limited opportunities provided to him. Apart from these, the team also has notable backups with Karamvir, Sourav Kumar, and Abinesh Nadarajan, who can complement the front-line defenders.

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