Ahead of PKL Auction 2021, Dabang Delhi K.C. retained their sensational raider Naveen Kumar, who had led the offense with 301 raid points to his name and a record 22 Super-10s. They also kept flamboyant all-rounder Vijay Malik as an Elite Retained Player (ERP). Other youngsters like Mohit, Neeraj Narwal, Sumit and Balram also remained on the team as their New Young Players (NYP).
In the seventh season of the PKL, Dabang Delhi K.C. were seen as over-reliant upon their star raider Naveen Kumar as their defense started to struggle in the concluding days of the tournament. Star defenders Ravinder Pahal, Joginder Narwal and Vishal Mane leaked points for Delhi, which was the difference that cost them the trophy last season.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at Dabang Delhi K.C.'s squad for PKL Season 8 through a SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis of Dabang Delhi K.C. PKL 8 squad
With the retention of Naveen Kumar, Dabang Delhi K.C. were looking for an able replacement for Chandran Ranjit as the latter was signed by the Bengaluru Bulls for a whopping ₹80 lakh. Delhi couldn't get him back through the FBM card as Ranjit exceeded their budget and hence, the team was looking for someone who could come at a low price.
They have found veteran Ajay Thakur at just ₹46 lakh and thus have formed a lethal combination of Naveen Kumar and Ajay Thakur. Naveen, who considers Ajay Thakur his idol, would benefit a lot from the latter's presence in the side. Meanwhile, Padmashri award winner Ajay will be determined to make an exceptional comeback in the upcoming season.
Corner pair Sandeep Narwal and Joginder Narwal have played together for Haryana in the Senior Nationals. Both understand each other's gameplay very well, and this duo can prove to be a strong defensive pairing in the upcoming season.
On paper, Dabang Delhi K.C. are a unit full of experienced campaigners who have been champions in their prime. However, most players like Manjeet Chhillar, Ajay Thakur, Jeeva Kumar, and Joginder Narwal are in the twilight phase of their careers.
Given that most players do not play in the Senior Nationals or any major tournament because of their age, their lack of game time adds to the rust factor even more. More than what the veterans would bring to the table, Dabang Delhi K.C.'s major issue would be how they cope with the massive strain of fitness standards in such a high-octane tournament.
Young prospects like Sushant Sail and Neeraj Narwal had the potential to turn into big match players last season. If given enough opportunities, they could bring depth to the raiding unit with their variety of raiding skills.
Dabang Delhi K.C. have also signed two talented international stars from Iran: Mohammad Malak and Emad Sedaghatnia. Mohammad Malak impressed everyone with his mind-blowing tackles from the covers at the Dubai Kabaddi Masters in 2018, while Emad Sedaghatnia has shown his capability to raid in do-or-die situations.
This could present Dabang Delhi with an opportunity to gain some strength in the reserves.
There is an adage that goes, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." Fans witnessed the same for the Tamil Thalaivas last season. The team comprised many star players in their line-up but ended up at the bottom of the points table.
Dabang Delhi K.C. have a similar team structure this time heading into PKL 8. They have too many leaders in their ranks, which means there could be a clash of leadership in the upcoming season.
Another threat is Dabang Delhi's lack of proper backups in the squad, especially in their defense. There will be immense pressure upon the frontline players to perform well. An injury to any player could backfire for the side big time in the eighth season.