The Pro Kabaddi League 2018 auction was a memorable one as Monu Goyat became the highest paid non-cricketer. This meant a bright new future for the game and for the Haryana Steelers, who bought him. This also meant that Pardeep Narwal would be without his comrade with whom he created history last season. Many experts hailed that Patna's lack of support for Pardeep was going to affect the team's performance.
In the team's opening fixture vs Tamil Thalaivas, the team didn't perform well. Despite that, Pardeep managed to score 11 points. He was assisted by Manjeet, a tall and quick raider who showed sparks of brilliance and could very well be the support Pardeep was looking for.
So did Deepak Narwal in the second fixture. While the lack of Monu might affect Pardeep's performance, people must know that the knife can cut both ways and this may bring the best out of him.
Here are three reasons why Pardeep can be more dangerous this season:
#3 More raiding time for Pardeep
While Monu Goyat was a support raider, he often took the onus upon himself even when Pardeep was on court. He was more of a partner to Pardeep than an assistant and his departure means more raiding opportunities for Pardeep.
Both Deepak Narwal and Manjeet attempted 16 raids in 2 matches while Pardeep has managed 49 raids, scoring 27 points, but being tackled only 8 times. This count is surely going to increase and the longer he stays on the mat, the more he gains in confidence.
#2 Bonus point
In the match vs UP Yoddha, one thing that stood out that whenever the bonus was available Pardeep went for the bonus and scored 7 bonus points in 10 attempts. Pardeep was never an advocate of bonus points last season, opting for touch points in bulk. This meant that he missed out on an opportunity to get the extra point when the bonus was available.
What change this brings about is that it offers him extra points while not adding to the risk. When a player like Pardeep goes for the bonus, he eventually draws in a tackle which he would have been expecting. This increases his chance of multiple point raids while increasing time on the mat. With this being the only feather not in his cap, adding it would mean that he's turning into an all-round package of explosive raiding.
#1 Awareness against game plans
Last season, Pardeep Narwal was one of the poster boys of the league. This season, he's become something more, he's become a fear factor for the opposition. Opposition sides prepare for him days in advance, coming up with a game plan. Yet, he manages to find a way of scoring points which is something remarkable.
In the opening game vs the Tamil Thalaivas, the Thalaivas defense seemed to have Pardeep in check by diving in with low tackles. This was keenly observed and noted by all other teams as a weapon to use against him.
When UP Yoddha faced him, he got tackled only 4 times. When raiding from the left, he took a short step to the left 'in' defender, clearly keeping the corner defender in view. When they tried to dive low, he was able to see them coming and escaped. The Yoddha defense was in fact well disciplined, yet they conceded 16 points to Pardeep.
Nitesh Kumar did manage to tackle him when he was turning with thigh holds but I'm sure that he will manage to find a way to overcome this game plan as well. His maturity as a raider has risen over the years and will continue to grow. This season is just another chance for him to break more records and rise in his already towering stature.