Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: How one district in Haryana has become the cradle of Indian kabaddi
Murder, rape, robbery – off late, Sonipat is in the news for quite a few dishonourable reasons. Last month, a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped and murdered, her skull smashed wide open by bricks. The list of sinful and shameful activities in this town runs long.
You can Google it, knock yourself out. For the people in this district, it’s easy and depressing to get caught up in this whirlwind.
But sports always finds a way to put things into perspective. The greatest beneficiary of Pro Kabaddi Season 5 isn’t a player who managed to pick up a cheque of Rs.93 lacs, it isn’t U Mumba, Haryana Steelers or Dabang Delhi. It’s a town whose people have finally found a way to associate themselves with something positive.
At the auction, this season, 50 players from Haryana were successfully picked up. Among them, 18 are from Sonipat, a town in the state of Haryana and all-rounder Sandeep Narwal received the second highest bid. Puneri Paltan managed to prize him away for Rs.66 lacs.
In doing so he became the 7th most expensive player at the auction which featured more than 400 players.
With 171 raid points and 161 tackle points, Sandeep has by far been Pro Kabaddi’s most consistent all arounder over the course of its four seasons. He was a crucial player for Patna Pirates before he moved to Telugu Titans where he shouldered additional responsibilities, marshalling his defence with military precision.
Alongside Deepak Hooda, Narwal is set to form a potent partnership at Pune this season.
Bengal Warriors made some shrewd signings as well which included raider Deepak Narwal and defender Virender Wajir Singh, both of whom hail from Sonipat. The inconsistent but supremely talented Ravinder Pahal made his way to Bengaluru Bulls along with defender Pradeep Narwal.
Ravinder was the first player ever from Sonipat to play at the national level. He’ll be keen to overcome his differing form and finally live up to his potential this year.
“Sonipat has had a glorious tradition in kabaddi. But then, still very few people used to play the sport previously. PKL has changed this – people have started recognising us and are taking to the courts more often,” Pahal told Sportskeeda in an earlier interview.
Arguably the greatest raider in the league- Pardeep Narwal hails from you know where. The Patna Pirates were extremely wise in retaining him for season 5.
“Kabaddi is very big in Sonipat, so I am sure that everyone back home watches every second that I play,” he said. Not one to express himself openly to the scribes, Pardeep is extremely reclusive at press conferences.
But when he enters the mat, Narwal transforms himself into a beast who relentlessly attempts to pick up at least a point everytime he steps up to raid. All eyes will be on season 4’s second most successful raider (behind Rahul Chaudhari).
U Mumba’s defensive backbone this year will consist of two players from Sonipat – Kuldeep Singh and Joginder Narwal. Sing was picked up for a massive Rs. 51.5 lacs.
Former Jaipur Panthers allrounder, Mahipal Narwal and the relatively underused, Rakesh Narwal will ply their trade for new entrants, Gujarat this season. The underrated, Sonu Narwal will be loving the fact that he gets to represent his hometown – Haryana this time around.
But it is Sonu’s former teammate, who is Sonipat’s most expensive kabaddi player this season. The nimble-footed allrounder, Rajesh Narwal was bought by Uttar Pradesh for a whopping Rs.69 lacs. Commentators rarely talk about Rajesh like they do of the other stellar names in the league.
Whether his team is on the up or sluggish, you can always expect the all-rounder to step up and lead by example. Technically speaking, he’s arguably one of the finest players in the league who rarely displays petulance on the mat.
Sonipat received its name from Svarnaprastha which translates to “The Golden City”. I have no idea if one can find gold in this ancient town. But you’re sure to find a truckload of talented Kabaddi players.