In the modern age of digitalization, Instagram has been one of the most widely used social networking sites in the world today. India ranks second as the nation with the most Instagram accounts, with more than 88 million active users today. A popular app among the youth, Instagram has been a platform for a lot of Kabaddi fans to keep updated with their favorite Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) stars.
Being the second most followed franchise-based league after the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has given a boost to the ancient sport of kabaddi. PKL has gained immense popularity among the fans in the past seven seasons, unearthing some of the top kabaddi talents within the country.
PKL 8 was expected to kickstart in July, with the auction planned to take place in April earlier this year. The current scenario of the coronavirus pandemic has deprived fans of live Pro Kabaddi action. However, kabaddi fans have remained active on social media to keep updated with the daily activities of the PKL stars.
A lot of kabaddi players have been extremely active on Instagram and have been posting their workout videos or sharing memories of their careers with the fans. As the popularity of a kabaddi player can be ranked based on the number of Instagram followers, here are the five most followed PKL stars.
Note: The followers' count has been taken into consideration as on 27th June 2020.
5 most followed Pro Kabaddi stars on Instagram
#5 Pawan Sehrawat - 156k followers
The 'Hi-Flyer' Pawan Sehrawat has become one of the most popular kabaddi players as his popularity grew leaps and bounds with his raiding exploits for PKL 6's winning team, Bengaluru Bulls. The 'Most Valuable Player' of PKl 6 has gained a substantial number of more than 1,56,000 followers on Instagram.
Pawan made his debut in the PKL back in Season 3 with the Bengaluru Bulls and struggled with his form during the first three seasons. However, he burst into the scene in Season 6 and bagged 271 raid points, including 22 points in the finale of Season 6 to lead the Bengaluru Bulls to their maiden PKL trophy. Pawan continued his fine run even in the next edition with his 300-raid point campaign, finishing with 346 raid points from the PKl 7 season.
Pawan etched some valuable records to his name, scoring the most raid points (39) by a player in a single match that came against Haryana Steelers in Pro Kabaddi League Season 7. He recorded 18 Super-10s in PKL 7 and now holds the record of most points scored by a Bengaluru Bulls' player in history with 673 raid points.
Pawan also made his debut for the Indian team at the South Asian Games 2019. The 'Hi-Flyer' can expect to gain more followers in the upcoming seasons of PKL with his breath-taking performances as a game-changer.
#4 Anup Kumar - 166.6k followers
A veteran with an illustrious career of more than 15 years in the sport of kabaddi, Anup Kumar has been the torchbearer for the Indian Kabaddi team ever since his debut in the 2006 South Asian Games. Known as 'Captain Cool', Anup Kumar led U Mumba to the title in PKL 2 and currently, the ace raider has more than 1,66,000 followers on Instagram.
With more than 600 posts, the 36-year-old usually posts pictures of his family and his special moments in the sport. The Arjuna awardee captained the Indian team in the 2014 Asian Games, and two years later led India to World Cup glory in 2016 at Ahmedabad.
Having played the first five seasons with U Mumba, Anup is the only captain in PKL history to lead his team to 3 consecutive finals. He was the highest scorer with 169 points in the inaugural season and finished with a total of 596 total points when he hung up his boots post Season 6. However, he continued in the PKL with a new avatar as the head coach of Puneri Paltan in the seventh season.
Anup's contribution to the sport of kabaddi as one of the best captains in the kabaddi world is the reason why he is a renowned kabaddi star on Instagram.
#3 Deepak Niwas Hooda - 228.9k followers
'Mr. Dependable' Deepak Niwas Hooda has been labelled as one of the successful all-rounders in the PKL with his consistent performances year after year. The captain of Jaipur Pink Panthers in the seventh season, Deepak is the third-highest points scorer in the league with 943 total points. As a result of his popularity, Deepak has more than 2,28,000 followers on Instagram.
Gaining the second-highest bid of 12.6 lakhs in the inaugural auction of the PKL, Deepak played for the Telugu Titans in the first two seasons of the league. He has stepped up as a raiding specialist in crucial situations with 166 Do or Die raid points, which is the most by any raider in the league.
After spending three PKL seasons with Puneri Paltan, Deepak led the Jaipur Pink Panthers midway in Season 6 and as a full-time captain in Season 7, becoming the highest-scoring all-rounder in both seasons.
Deepak made his debut for the Indian Kabaddi team back in 2016 South Asian Games and hasn't missed any international event since then. Four years later, he captained a newly-revamped Indian Kabaddi team that won gold in the 2019 South Asian Games held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The current captain of the Indian kabaddi team is one of the most renowned player with tons of experience under his belt, which is the reason why Deepak is admired among the kabaddi fans active on social media.
#2 Rahul Chaudhari - 234.9k followers
'The Showman' of Pro Kabaddi Rahul Chaudhari has established himself as one of the best players of Pro Kabaddi League with over 950 raid points to his tally. Rahul is one of the two raiders to win the 'Best Player award' twice in the history of the game (in Season 1 & 4). Known for his flamboyant raiding skills and fearless approach, it comes as no surprise that Rahul has the second-highest followers on Instagram with 2,34,000.
Having played over 100 games for Telugu Titans in the first six seasons of PKL, Rahul is one of the only two players to cross 1,000 total points in the league after Pardeep Narwal. With 40 Super 10s to his name, Rahul has an average of 7.82 raid points per game.
He switched to the Ajay Thakur-led Tamil Thalaivas in PKL 7, but his form dipped as he could only manage 138 raid points with four Super 10s. However, his fanbase has gone up with every year since the inception of the league, making him one of the most followed PKL stars in the competition.
Rahul began his career as the Indian captain at the 4th Asian Beach Games and was also part of the Kabaddi World Cup-winning Indian team in 2016. He went on to win the gold medal with the Indian team at the South Asian Games 2016, Asian Kabaddi Championship 2017, and Kabaddi Masters 2018. Rahul has achieved a lot in his prime with a single move - his lethal running hand touch.
Rahul Chaudhari has been a sensation among the youth, garnering a whole lot of fan following, making him one of the most adored Pro Kabaddi stars.
#1 Ajay Thakur - 245.2k followers
Former captain of the Indian kabaddi team, Ajay Thakur, is the most popular kabaddi player with around 2,45,000 followers on Instagram. He has been one of the most prolific raiders in PKL history. Considered as a hero by many kabaddi fans across the world, Thakur also serves as the DSP of Himachal Pradesh police.
Ajay Thakur is an experienced veteran of the game and has been a terrific performer in almost every season of the PKL. The fourth highest points scorer with 790 raid points to his name - Ajay made a name for himself as a Do or Die specialist who could turn around matches under any given situation. His never-say-die attitude as a player and strategical approach as a captain has made him one of the most renowned kabaddi players in recent times.
Ajay Thakur's heroics in the final of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup with a Super 10 versus Iran is one of his best moments in the sport. He has been a part of India's gold-winning campaigns and has led many such campaigns as the captain of the side. Ajay is the only Kabaddi player in history to be conferred with both the Arjuna and Padmashri awards, two awards which are considered as the topmost honours for a sportsperson in India.
Ajay also gained a lot of praise for his duties as a police offer amid the coronavirus pandemic, serving during the most crucial time of the nationwide lockdown. His dual avatar as a kabaddi player and the DSP of Himachal Pradesh Police has been an inspiration for many fans on social media.