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Pro Kabaddi League 2017 Season 5: Top 5 defenders from the Mumbai leg

Most major names in the defence didn't have a great leg as new performers stole the show
Most major names in the defence didn't have a great leg as new performers stole the show
Amit Sinha

The end of the Mumbai leg has brought the curtains down on another fine week of Kabaddi. Unlike last two legs. It wasn't the best of weeks for defenders as errors and raid points poured in like the rains in the city where the matches took place. Also, the team with the best defence unit - the Gujarat Fortunegiants couldn't take the mat in this leg because Mumbai rains forced their match to be cancelled.

However, despite that, there were several standout defenders on show in Mumbai who enthralled spectators at the DOME@NSCI SVP. The list surprisingly doesn't include names of some of the best defenders of Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 as either they didn't get a game in Mumbai or didn't perform as well as they had before this.

Here are the five defenders who shone bright in the Mumbai leg of Pro Kabaddi League Season 5.

#5 Vishal Mane

Mane's return to form is good news for Patna struggling with their defence in Season 5
Mane's return to form is good news for Patna who are struggling with their defence in Season 5

Vishal Prabhakar Mane is a man as big as his name and has a commendable PKL record behind him. Yet, with the Patna Pirates this season, he looked a little out of place in the early goings. He had accrued a mere 12 tackle points from the team's first six encounters but escaped scrutiny on most occasions because of Pardeep Narwal and Monu Goyat's raiding brilliance.

But finally, against Bengal Warriors, Mane arrived in the manner most suited to him. Before Bengal Warriors staged a comeback, Patna rode on Mane's tackling brilliance to run to a healthy lead of 15 at one point. He brought out the double ankle hold to deadly effect against the Warriors and made life miserable for Jang Kun Lee.

He finished the match with six points to his name and it will be good news for his side if he can take the confidence from that game to the future fixtures as well.

#4 Sombir

Sombir became the first defender to score 10 tackle points in PKL 5
Sombir became the first defender to score 10 tackle points in PKL 5

The Telugu Titans might not have achieved a lot in this season of Pro Kabaddi League - hurtling from one defeat to another throughout the last month. They, however, can be credited for unearthing some special talents in PKL 5.

In the early weeks it was young Vishal Bhardwaj who had made everyone sit up and take notice and on Thursday evening, another youngster decided to grab the spotlight.

Sombir turned in a performance against the Tamil Thalaivas that will be remembered for a long long time in the history of Pro Kabaddi League. First, he helped the team come back from a 0-4 scoreline by putting in two super tackle efforts. Then he helped the Titans consolidate and stretch the lead in the second half of the game. And when things got tense again with the Thalaivas threatening a break in in the game’s dying moments, he did the job once again by bringing the best raider of the Thalaivas down to end all hopes of the opposition of a comeback.

By scoring 10 tackle points, he went past Fazel Atrachali's nine tackle point effort to rewrite the PKL record books and got his name against the most tackle points in a match column.

#3 Bajirao Hodage

Hodage is a seasoned campaigner and his return to form augurs well for Delhi
Hodage is a seasoned campaigner and his return to form augurs well for Delhi

Before the fifth season began, Dabang Delhi looked a formidable side on paper and that was majorly due to the presence of experienced names of Nilesh Shinde and Bajirao Hodage in the defence. But much to their frustration, Hodage and Shinde failed to fire for the team together in the early days of the season.

While Nilesh Shinde chipped in with vital contributions from time to time, Hodage hadn't produced a single notable performance before the Mumbai leg.

But all that changed in Mumbai as Hodage finally rose to the occasion against U Mumba and, though they may appear just four points on paper, each point had its weight in gold in a match that eventually ended with a difference of one point separating both the teams.

His dashes brought the likes of Anup Kumar and Kashiling Adake down and provided Delhi the belief that helped them close the match, something that they hadn't been able to do well before this.

#2 Surjeet Singh

The captain has come good for Bengal in their last two games
The captain has come good for Bengal in their last two games

Unlike last season, the Bengal Warriors have kept themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot till now as the tournament approaches the halfway mark. They have not exactly set the stage on fire but they're just behind Patna Pirates and Gujarat Fortunegiants on the points table and that tells a lot.

A lot of the credit for that has to go to the skipper Surjeet Singh who has not only led the team well but also provided solidity to the team's defence. In Mumbai, Surjeet was in his elements when the team took on Bengaluru Bulls, scoring 8 tackle points from 9 attempts.

Before that game, Surjeet had shown signs of form in the encounter against Patna and had earned himself a High-5. That match proved crucial as it helped Surjeet regain his confidence after it looked shaky in the previous games. The captain's loss of form was also impacting the team's campaign which is back on its legs now with Rann Singh and Surjeet confidently manning the team's defence.

#1 Kuldeep Singh

Kuldeep Singh has 19 points from 11 matches and will be crucial in team's future fixtures
Kuldeep Singh has 19 points from 11 matches and will be crucial in team's future fixtures

If the star studded raiding department of U Mumba deserves the blame for Its lacklustre show in Season 5, the defence doesn't deserve any reprieve either. The lack of experience in the backline has let the team down on numerous occasions, best exemplified by the problem of their most successful defender Surinder who seems to be hell bent on undoing his good show with school boyish errors in every match.

Their home campaign was marred by error riddled defending and the only man who can claim to have not let his team down in the defence is Kuldeep Singh.

Against the Haryana Steelers, Kuldeep's performance stood a world above his teammates' who just couldn't stop themselves from making sloppy mistakes and conceding easy points to the opposition. The veteran accrued six points from five tackle attempts and also single-handedly prevented the team from getting All Out when he foiled Vikas Khandola's raid attempt alone with a vicious ankle hold with the hosts down to two men.

Edited by Souvik Roy Chowdhury

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