The Pro Kabaddi League has been a platform for numerous budding kabaddi players to showcase their skills and make a name for themselves. A lot of kabaddi players who left an impression in the PKL like Pawan Sehrawat, Nitesh Kumar, and Pardeep Narwal, went on to play for India, which is considered to be a dream for countless individuals.
Players look up to the PKL not just for lucrative contracts but also as a platform for national call-ups. It has established as a foundation where world-class kabaddi players represent different franchises, whereas the newcomers exhibit their talent towards future opportunities through the sport.
India has kept its traditional stronghold on the sport since the beginning as the nation has produced several top-notch players. However, there have also been many talented players who haven't made their debut for India yet, despite performing exceedingly well in the PKL.
Thus, through this article, we would take a look at five such players.
#5 Rohit Gulia (60 PKL matches)
Rohit Gulia got picked for the Gujarat Fortune Giants from the Future Kabaddi Heroes program in Season 5. The offensive all-rounder proved his worth as a consistent performer in offense and also doubled up as a handy defender when the occasion demanded.
A formidable raider in the do or die raids, Gulia has shown his propensity to deliver in pressure situations with his running hand touches and escapes. Although he couldn't get many chances in his first two seasons, Gulia played a vital role in taking Gujarat Fortune Giants to the finals over the next couple of seasons.
As the other raiders failed to live up to the mark in Season 7, Gulia emerged from the reserves as the team's lead raider and recorded his maiden 100-point campaign.
He was named the captain mid-season after he impressed coach Manpreet Singh with his consistency. Gulia ended the term as the second-best all-rounder with 132 raid points in 22 matches.
He is among the top all-rounders in the PKL but hasn't made his debut for the national team. However, if he keeps maintaining the level of his performances, a national call-up might not be too far away.
#4 Ran Singh (120 PKL matches)
Punjab's left corner defender, Ran Singh made his debut in the inaugural season of the PKL and played a prominent role in leading Jaipur Pink Panthers to the title. With his precise timing and massive upper body strength, Ran Singh has been a consistent performer and has gotten ranked as the 10th best defender in the history of the league.
After representing the Jaipur Pink Panthers for four seasons, Ran Singh made the switch to the Bengal Warriors in Season 5 when he delivered his career-best tally of 52 tackle points with 2 High-5s to his name. A master of ankle holds and body blocks, Ran Singh has been a veteran in the game.
Having played 120 matches in the PKL, Ran Singh has scored 234 tackle points and inflicted 14 super tackles as well. Although the defender has not played for the Indian national side, his stock across the seven seasons of the league has grown substantially, meaning that a national call-up would firmly justify his growth.
#3 Sandeep Dhull (66 PKL matches)
A young talent who broke onto the scene in his debut with Dabang Delhi K.C. back in Season 3, Sandeep Dhull has cemented his place as one of the finest left corner defenders in the league's history. He has shown his caliber on numerous occasions and has emerged as a mature defender with his brilliant ankle holds and dives.
In his two seasons with Dabang Delhi, Dhull left an impression as a super tackle specialist. After getting snapped up by the Jaipur Pink Panthers in the Season 6 auction, he remained their top defender for two seasons in a row and kept the orange arm-band for most of Season 7.
Additionally, Dhull finished as Jaipur's most successful defender in his comeback season with 67 tackle points and four High-5s. The ankle-hold specialist improved his stats furthermore, scoring 73 tackle points in 22 matches at a staggering average of 3.32 tackle points per game.
Even though the team failed to make it to the playoffs, Dhull's precise defensive skills stole the headlines for a major chunk of the season. However, his remarkable performances haven't yet earned him a national call-up, although that could change if he continues charting his current upward trajectory.
#2 Shrikant Jadhav (76 PKL matches)
From establishing himself as a do or die specialist to raiding upfront as a frontline raider, Shrikant Jadhav enjoyed a massive boost to his PKL career with U Mumba in Season 5. He made his debut with the Bengal Warriors in Season 3 but didn't get many chances to show his caliber until two seasons later, when he raided in critical situations under the captaincy of Anup Kumar.
Jadhav's ability to take out the defence with his swift running hand touches and his trait of using his long reach to get to the mid-line helped him score consistently, as he mustered 86 raid points in Season 5. He snapped up by UP Yoddha for the next season and has led the team's raiding department since.
Jadhav's tally of 141 raid points turned out to be crucial for UP Yoddha's qualification into the playoffs in Season 6. He showed his consistency yet again in the next season, scoring 148 raid points as became the highest scorer for his side during that campaign.
A talented raider with a plethora of raiding skills in his arsenal, the Indian Railways' player is yet to earn a call-up in the national team. However, his ability to turn matches around could prove to be crucial for India, provided he gets selected.
#1 Siddharth Desai (43 PKL matches)
Siddharth Desai made a sensational debut in the sixth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, where he claimed the 'Best debutant' award with U Mumba. Scoring a Super-10 in his very first match, he went on to become the third-best raider of Season 6 with 218 raid points.
Siddharth's notable success in his debut season enabled him to bag a mammoth contract of ₹1.45 crores from Telugu Titans, thereby becoming the most expensive player in the seventh edition. Despite enduring a slow start due to his injury, he got into his groove and led the Titans' raiding department single-handedly.
The raider scored 217 raid points and claimed ten Super-10s, thereby hunting down several defensive units. He also scored a total of 23 raid points in a match against Bengaluru Bulls, which remains his best performance thus far.
Siddharth has established himself as one of the most prolific raiders in the PKL over the course of the past couple of seasons. However, he is yet to earn a national call-up in the Indian kabaddi team but that might change if he continues churning out such displays.