Pro Kabaddi League is set to commence from the first week of October and the action will continue over three months and end in January. Twelve franchises will be in the race to claim the crown of the Pro Kabaddi League champion as the competition takes place all over the country.
Jaipur Pink Panthers were the champions of the inaugural edition of the PKL in 2014 and have consistently been one of the strong competitors over the years. We take a look at some raiders who you might not know have featured for the Panthers.
#5 Sonu Narwal
Sonu Narwal was picked up by the Haryana Steelers for a price of 21 Lakhs but was then ruled out for the entire season after being deemed physically unfit by the team management.
Sonu was a seasoned Indian national kabaddi player and was a part of the 2010 Asian Games gold medal-winning team in Guangzhou, China. He did not take part in the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League but featured in the second season after being signed by the Jaipur Pink Panthers.
He played two seasons for the Pink Panthers and then moved on to the Puneri Paltan for Season 4. Over the three seasons, the raider managed to score 138 raid points in 33 matches for the two franchises.
#4 Tushar Patil
Tushar Patil, the young 23-year-old raider was signed this season by the Patna Pirates for an amount of 20 Lakhs in the Pro Kabaddi League Season 6 auction held earlier this year.
He began his Pro Kabaddi League career with the Puneri Paltan after making his way through the open trials conducted by the franchise before the start of the second season. He did not play a lot of matches over the two years with Puneri Paltan but showed glimpses of promise which prompted the Pink Panthers to sign him for the fourth season.
After a quiet fourth season, Patil was more prominently used by the Pink Panthers in the fifth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League as he scored 67 raid points over the seventeen matches that he played. Patil also played a fairly decent role in the defensive scheme of things for the Pink Panthers and had a few tackles points to his credit as well.
The latest season will see him vie for a chance to shine with the Patna Pirates as they gear up to challenge for their fourth straight title.
#3 Pawan Kumar Kadiyan
Pawan Kumar Kadiyan has been a longtime presence in the Pro Kabaddi League after having featured in the league since the inception in 2014. The young lanky raider was signed by U Mumba in the first season and performed well for the franchise as they reached the finals of the tournament. He played two more seasons for U Mumba before moving on to the Bengaluru Bulls for the fourth season of the PKL.
Pawan Kumar played nine matches for the Bulls and scored 21 points as he played off the bench. He was signed by the Jaipur Pink Panthers last season and finally managed to garner the spotlight on himself.
After the injury concerns to Jasvir Singh, the lead raider for the Pink Panthers, Pawan Kumar was thrust into the role and made the most of it. Kumar managed to score 122 points over the 21 matches in the fifth season with three Super 10s to his name.
He produced a 17-point performance in a match and averaged 5.8 raid points per match in season 5. Kumar will turn out for the Dabang Delhi KC side this season after he was signed for an amount of 20 Lakhs.
#2 Shabeer Bapu
A veteran of the sport in India, Shabeer Bapu has been one of the most tactful players in the Pro Kabaddi League over the years. The Karnataka man was signed by the U Mumba franchise for the first season of the PKL and formed a formidable partnership with captain Anup Kumar as they marched on to the finals of the competition. Bapu was a vital part of the squad the following season as they won the championship for the first time.
He played one more season for the U Mumba side before he was signed by the Jaipur Pink Panthers for the fourth edition of the PKL. In the twelve matches that he featured, Bapu managed to score 35 points. U Mumba again signed for him the fifth season but injury problems saw him miss out on a large chunk of the season.
Bapu was the captain of the Karnataka team that took part in the 2017-18 Senior National Kabaddi Championship and will feature for the Dabang Delhi KC side this year after being signed for an amount of 15.5 Lakhs.
#1 Ajay Kumar
Ajay Kumar made his debut in the Pro Kabaddi League in Season 4 when the Jaipur Pink Panthers signed him in the auction. He became their do-or-die raid specialist and formed a solid partnership with Jasvir Singh as he went on to win the "Emerging Player of the Year" award for his performances. Kumar scored 61 raid points in 15 matches with two Super 10s to his name over the season.
Kumar then moved on to the Bengaluru Bulls which saw him pair up with star man Rohit Kumar and deliver clinical performances on the mat. Kumar scored 89 raid points in the season as he crossed the 150 raid points mark for his career in season 5.
At the auction this year, Ajay Kumar was picked up by the Gujarat Fortunegiants for an amount of 25 Lakhs.