Puneri Paltan were one of the first eight franchises to join the Pro Kabaddi League. They have been a part of every PKL season played thus far. However, the Pune-based franchise have never qualified for the final of the tournament.
Despite signing some of the biggest names in Pro Kabaddi League history like Rahul Chaudhari, Deepak Niwas Hooda, Nitin Tomar, Ajay Thakur, Manjeet Chhillar, Surjeet Singh, and others, Puneri Paltan have fallen short every time.
Paltan have made it to the playoffs multiple times but failed to deliver the goods in the knockout matches. This year, Puneri Paltan have assembled a decent squad with a good balance of youth and experience. Here is the full list of Puneri Paltan players for PKL 9:
Mohit Goyat, Akash Shinde, Sanket Sawant, Govind Gurjar, Aslam Inamdar, Sombir Gulia, Rakesh Bhalle Ram, Balasaheb Shahaji Jadhav, Harsh Mahesh Lad, Abinesh Nadarajan, Shubham Nitin Shelke, Pankaj Mohite, Badal Taqdir Singh, Aditya Tushar Shinde, Fazel Atrachali, Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, Alankar Kaluram Patil, and D Mahindraprasad.
Pune have never won the PKL championship, but here are three reasons why they can capture the trophy in Pro Kabaddi 2022.
#1 Iranian duo of Fazel Atrachali and Mohammad Nabibakhsh
Puneri Paltan spent big in the initial rounds of the Pro Kabaddi 2022 Auction to sign the two Iranian stars Fazel Atrachali and Mohammad Nabibakhsh. Neither of the players had a perfect season in 2021/22, but they have the potential to win matches single-handedly on their day.
Atrachali is the most successful foreign defender in Pro Kabaddi League history. He has earned 368 tackle points from 125 matches so far and is very close to dethroning Manjeet Chhillar as the most successful defender of all time.
Meanwhile, Nabibakhsh has been the best overseas all-rounder of the tournament in the last two seasons. Playing for the Bengal Warriors, he scored 230 points in just 43 games.
#2 In-form young raiders of Puneri Paltan
Pune retained their top raiders from the previous edition of PKL – Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat. Both raiders were quite impressive on debut as they finished in the top 15 of the raiders leaderboard.
Aslam scored 169 raid points in 23 matches, while Mohit accumulated 159 raid points in 21 matches. Pune also retained their rising star Pankaj Mohite, who has earned 136 points in 23 games for the franchise.
With Nabibakhsh present in the squad as well, Pune have a strong raiding unit which can give nightmares to the opposition teams' defense.
#3 Tried and tested set of defenders
Puneri Paltan retained three of their four main defenders from PKL 8. They let go of their left corner defender Vishal Bhardwaj but signed Atrachali as his replacement. Right corner Sombir Gulia, left cover Sanket Sawant, and right cover Abinesh Nadarajan will continue in their respective positions.
Pune's defense and raiding unit have a lot of experience playing together. With the addition of Atrachali and Nabibakhsh, the team has only become stronger. It should not be a surprise if Pune end their title drought in Pro Kabaddi 2022.