PKL Auction 2021 presented the Jaipur Pink Panthers with an opportunity to rebuild their squad after a dismal PKL Season 7 campaign. The Pink Panthers went from being one of the hottest sides early in the season to finishing outside the six playoff spots.
The inaugural PKL champions Jaipur Pink Panthers decided to rebuild their squad by hiring a new man at the helm. Sanjeev Baliyan, a former Indian national player and Indian Railways coach, was brought onboard as the head coach.
Ahead of the auction, the Panthers retained defenders Amit Hooda and Vishal Lather as their Elite Retained Players. They also kept their young all-rounder prospect Nitin Rawal as a Retained Young Player. Other youngsters like Sushil Gulia, Sachin Narwal, Elavarasan A and Pavan TR also remained on the team as their New Young Players (NYPs).
In this article, we take a closer look at the Jaipur Pink Panthers Season 8 squad through a SWOT Analysis.
SWOT Analysis of Jaipur Pink Panthers PKL 8 Squad
With the retention of Amit Hooda, the Jaipur Pink Panthers managed to cover one of the most important positions in the defense - the right corner. Amit Hooda has been one of the most lethal corner defenders in the PKL in recent seasons. The Pink Panthers also retained Vishal Lather, who had a productive outing in PKL Season 7.
At the PKL Auction 2021, they used the Final Bid Match (FBM) card to get back Sandeep Kumar Dhull into their ranks for the third season running. Over the past few seasons, Dhull has been one of the most consistently performing left corner defenders in the PKL. He was the fourth-highest scoring defender in PKL Season 7 with 73 tackles points.
In Amit Hooda and Sandeep Kumar Dhull, the Jaipur Pink Panthers have one of the strongest corner defensive pairings in the Pro Kabaddi League.
On paper, the Jaipur Pink Panthers look like a fairly well-balanced squad with the right mix of experience and youth in their ranks. However, the same could be said for their PKL Season 7 squad.
The Pink Panthers had experienced campaigners like Deepak Niwas Hooda, Amit Hooda, Deepak Narwal and Nilesh Salunke in their ranks. They also had some strong young prospects like Sandeep Kumar Dhull, Nitin Rawal etc. Despite this, they failed to deliver on the expectations.
The Pink Panthers need to push their disappointment behind them and start afresh this season.
Head coach Sanjeev Baliyan, the man who has marshaled the Indian Railways to glory in the Senior Kabaddi Nationals over the last few years, presents a strong opportunity this season for the Jaipur Pink Panthers. With his vast experience and the success with U Mumba in PKL Season 7, the Pink Panthers will aim for a stronger finish this season.
Another aspect that can be promising for the Panthers is their young prospects. Arjun Deshwal was one of the most in-demand raiders at the PKL Auction 2021 and the Panthers paid a huge sum of ₹96 lakh to obtain his services. He had a stellar season with U Mumba last time around and his experience of playing under head coach Baliyan will be helpful for the Panthers.
They also have the electric Nitin Rawal, who is a handy all-rounder as well as the promising NYPs such as Pavan TR, Sachin Narwal and Sushil Gulia in their ranks to possibly have a breakout season.
Jaipur Pink Panthers have been mediocre in their performances over the past few seasons. They made the playoffs way back in PKL Season 4 going all the way to the final.
With a new head coach and a fresh squad filled with youngsters, it can go either way - glory or despair. There is always the threat of first season syndrome when a newly assembled squad get their bearings together by playing as a unit for the first time. Jaipur Pink Panthers will hope to flourish under the new management and finally achieve their long-lost glory.