It is no secret that the Patna Pirates are the most successful team in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League. They won the title thrice in a row from Season 3 to Season 5, with lead raider Pardeep Narwal taking the side to monumental heights.
Narwal is the only raider to have scored more than 1,000 raid points in the league to date. However, the team has gone downhill in the past two seasons as they have become over-reliant upon their lead raider. The team's huge fan base was left shattered as the Pirates crashed out at the league stage last year for a second consecutive time.
A lot of big names have played for the Pirates and were a part of the squad during their three-season dominant run. Some of the players released by the side have gone on to have stellar PKL careers for other teams.
Here, we take a look at three players whom Patna Pirates shouldn't have released in the past.
#3 Sandeep Narwal
'The Beast' Sandeep Narwal made his debut with the Patna Pirates in the inaugural season as an exciting all-rounder. His terrific speed and intensity on the mat made him an instant hit right from the start as the raiding all-rounder then scored 92 raid points and 27 tackle points in the inaugural season.
In the next two seasons, Sandeep Narwal was Patna Pirates' top-scoring defender with 37 and 55 tackle points successively. While Patna Pirates clinched their maiden title in PKL Season 3 under the captaincy of Manpreet Singh, it was Sandeep who led the defense with his mighty blocks and dashes that won him the 'Best Defender' award in that season.
Despite his immense contribution, Patna Pirates released him in the very next season. They have struggled to find a dependable right corner since then. After shifting gears and prioritizing his defensive approach, Sandeep has consistently scored more than 40 tackle points in every season since then. He kept on working on his all-round ability, because of which he is only one out of three all-rounders in the PKL to have scored more than 500 total points.
In the recently-concluded seventh season, he became the fourth player in PKL history to cross 300 tackle points. Given that Patna Pirates have greatly struggled with their defense in recent years, it can be argued that they should never have released an experienced campaigner like Sandeep Narwal.
#2 Monu Goyat
The highlight of Patna Pirates' third title victory in the PKL was all about the raiding duo of Pardeep Narwal and the flamboyant Monu Goyat. The latter had a sensational outing in Season 5 of PKL as he firmly supported Pardeep in the raiding whenever the latter needed to be revived on the mat.
The fourth-most successful raider of Season 5, Monu Goyat scored 191 raid points with 9 Super-10s at an average of 7.34. He had a massive role in the offense, with Pardeep leading upfront and Goyat stepping in as a support raider. He also scored 45 Do-or-Die raid points, which was the second-most in the Do-or-Die points tally that season.
The Pardeep-Monu duo scored 560 raid points combined, which is the most by any raiding pair in a single season. Goyat's release at next year's auction came as a huge surprise, and he was sold to Haryana Steelers for a mammoth ₹1.51 crores.
But Patna Pirates failed to find a dependable support raider for Pardeep Narwal, and since then, they haven't been able to qualify for the playoffs. If the side hadn't released Monu Goyat, perhaps the raiding duo could have led the offensive department.
#1 Fazel Atrachali
Iran's Fazel Atrachali had a significant role to play when Patna Pirates retained their title in PKL Season 4. While he didn't get enough opportunities in his first two seasons, Atrachali wreaked havoc against the opposition raiders in Season 4 with Dharmaraj Cheralathan/Hadi Oshtorak aiding him from the other corner.
Using most of his opportunities, Atrachali scored 52 tackle points which was the most by any defender in the fourth season. With 4 High-5s to his name, Atrachali's impressive ankle holds and waist blocks made sure no raiders could get past him with Bajirao Hodage as a support in the right cover. His outstanding showing made him win the 'Best Defender' award in the fourth season.
Fazel Atrachali maintained his consistency despite getting released by Patna Pirates, as he went on to play for Gujarat Fortunegiants and took the debuting team to the final. In Season 6, he became the most expensive foreign player in PKL when he got sold to U Mumba for a whopping 1 crore INR.
Atrachali spruced up his game as a leading captain, scoring more than 80 tackle points in the two seasons he played with U Mumba. He also managed to take his side into the playoffs even with the young offensive line-up.
Even though Patna Pirates managed to win the title in Season 5 with Jaideep as their left corner, Jaideep's inconsistency in the past two seasons has also caused Pirates to get knocked out early. That shows how much Patna Pirates miss the services of Fazel Atrachali in their defense.