Jaipur Pink Panthers had a glorious start to their journey in the Pro Kabaddi League, winning the final of the inaugural season of the competition in sublime fashion against U Mumba. However, the Abhishek Bachchan-owned franchise is yet to win a title since then and their second appearance in the final saw them getting beat by Patna Pirates in Season 4.
The Jaipur-based franchise has been the home to many notable players like Jasvir Singh, Navneet Gautam, Rohit Rana, Ran Singh, and Manjeet Chhillar. Jaipur Pink Panthers still has the potential to beat the top tier-teams and has had some memorable moments over the past seven seasons, but have failed to land their second championship.
Here, we take a look at three players whom Jaipur Pink Panthers shouldn't have released in the past.
Pro Kabaddi League: 3 players Jaipur Pink Panthers should not have released
#3 Ajay Kumar
The do-or-die specialist from the Services board, Ajay Kumar, made his PKL debut for Jaipur Pink Panthers in Season 4. He had a prominent role for the side in the offense, leading the charge in crucial situations of the matches and taking responsibility whenever the team needed him to do so.
Raiding along with experienced campaigners Jasvir Singh and Shabeer Bapu, Ajay Kumar displayed his unique style full of swift hand touches and escapes for the Pro Kabaddi League:
It turned out to be a breakthrough campaign for the prodigy as he got 61 raid points in the season. He scored 36 do-or-die raid points, which was the second-best tally next to Rahul Chaudhari (38). It played a vital role in taking Jaipur Pink Panthers to the final of the fourth edition.
Through his standout performances, Ajay bagged the 'Emerging Player of the Season' award and performed as a stalwart in his very first season. However, Jaipur didn't keep him for the next season as Bengaluru Bulls snapped him in the auction later as a support raider to Rohit Kumar. Ajay was once again the go-to man in the critical raids and was the fourth-best do-or-die raider (39) in PKL 5.
A talent like Ajay Kumar could have shown his caliber better if he had been with the Pink Panthers for the later seasons as well. As his presence takes the pressure off the other raiders, Jaipur Pink Panthers should also regret playing him just for one season only.
#2 Parvesh Bhainswal
Parvesh Bhainswal made his PKL debut for the runners-up of the fourth edition - Jaipur Pink Panthers after the seasoned left cover Rohit Rana was unavailable in the tournament due to injury. He aided the side with his support to the corner defenders but didn't do much on his part as he could only attain three tackle points in seven matches.
He switched to the debuting Gujarat Fortunegiants, where he partnered with Sunil Kumar in the cover defense. The slim-looking defender, whose expertise in using his upper body force to take down the raiders, scored 48 tackle points with two High-5s in his first season with Gujarat.
The sixth edition of the PKL turned out to be a dream run for this Haryana-born left cover as he recorded the second-most tackle points (86) by any defender in a single season of PKL - behind Nitesh Kumar's 100 tackle points. Despite having a slow start, Bhainswal gained pace and scored at an average of 3.28 with five High-5s.
In the three seasons combined, Bhainswal has been the top defender for Gujarat with a total of 189 tackle points. He is one of the best cover defenders in the league today, proving why Jaipur Pink Panthers should regret dropping him.
#1 Maninder Singh
The swashbuckling raider Maninder Singh was the breakout star of the first-ever season of PKL vas he contributed in the offense immensely for Jaipur Pink Panthers as they won the title. He performed as a strike raider with an average of 8.12, notching up 130 raid points and five Super-10s and finishing as the third-best raider.
A shoulder injury followed Maninder's glorious start as he got sidelined for the next three seasons. It forced a setback to the Pink Panthers as well, as they haven't been able to find a raider with the same caliber even till today.
Maninder returned in the Season 5 auction, where the Jaipur Pink Panthers and Bengal Warriors went on a bidding war. However, Jaipur Pink Panthers had already spent a whopping ₹75.5 lakhs on Manjeet Chhillar backed out, as Bengal Warriors signed him for a mere ₹45.5 lakhs. From there on, he has wreaked havoc in the offense for the Kolkata-based franchise.
This consistent performer has been in the top-5 raiders' list in three back-to-back seasons, as the raider has scored 601 raid points in 63 matches at an average of 9.54 for the Warriors. His impact saw the side qualify for the side for three straight years, and Maninder also captained the side in the seventh season recently in which Bengal Warriors won their first Pro Kabaddi title.
A calculative raider with consistency, Maninder is a gem of a raider who can perform in any given situation. Although a lot of raiders have played for the Jaipur Pink Panthers, Maninder Singh was probably one of the best of the lot.Published 25 Nov 2020, 23:08 IST