Thirteen weeks of breathtaking action on the mat came to a conclusion last Saturday with the summit clash that was held between Dabang Delhi K.C. and Bengal Warriors at the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad. Although Dabang Delhi were the favourites to go all the way, Bengal Warriors sprung a surprise as they defeated Joginder Narwal's men by five points and clinched the title.
Probably, no other sport has seen such quick growth in the last few years. It is not a coincidence that the steep hike in the viewership of this traditional sport started with the inception of the Pro Kabaddi 2019.
The rules, the format, and the tactics have all changed since then, but the veteran players have kept us connected with every season of PKL.
However, we could be in a position to lose them too, as a few players could bring down the curtains on their illustrious PKL careers in the coming days.
On that note, here is a list of four players who might retire after the recently-concluded season.
#4 Jeeva Kumar
Bengal Warriors made a skeptical bid for Jeeva Kumar in the Season 7 auctions. For a tournament that had become more dynamic and youth-oriented in the last few seasons, the decision to add him to the squad did surprise many.
However, the 38-year-old veteran defender squashed all doubts, as he played 22 times for the Warriors this season and collected 39 tackle points with his lethal dashes and ankle-holds. More importantly, his presence on the mat added a sense of calm to the proceedings for the eventual winners on many occasions.
That said, teams might not be willing to risk having Jeeva in their squad next season. Jeeva's waning reflexes and slow movement on the mat could make him vulnerable to lose points consistently and hence, become a liability for the teams.
Position: Cover Defender
Total Matches Played: 115
Total Points Earned: 235
#3 Shabeer Bappu
It is unfortunate that for the talent he possesses, Shabeer Bappu has played only 74 matches in his entire PKL career so far. In fact, Bappu played the maximum number of games in a single season in the recently-concluded campaign.
The Kerala-born raider played 14 games for Tamil Thalaivas this season and collected only 22 raid points. The team's dismal form in the competition did not help the player either. The morale was at an all-time low within the squad and Bappu lacked support around him to take a few risks on the mat.
At 33, it is unlikely that an out-of-form Bappu will find an opportunity to be a part of any PKL outfit next season. Unless a few franchises pick him at the auctions as an injury cover for their primary raiders, his PKL future could be over.
Total Matches Played: 74
Total Points Earned: 236