PKL (Pro Kabaddi League) started in 2014 in order to promote the ancient Indian sport of Kabaddi and lend it a mainstream appeal. The PKL, during its seven seasons, has managed to arouse spectator interest and become the second most-watched sporting league in the country.
Five different franchises - Jaipur Pink Panthers, U Mumba, Patna Pirates, Bengaluru Bulls and Bengal Warriors - have won the PKL. The Patna Pirates are the only PKL franchise to win multiple titles in the competition, completing a hat-trick of titles in Seasons 3 to 5.
While many players have won the PKL, a few highly skilled and talented players have never managed to be in a PKL Championship-winning team during the seven seasons of the competition. In this article, we take a look at five such players who are yet to win the PKL.
Five top players yet to win the PKL title
#5 Ravinder Pahal - Defender
Ravinder Pahal is one of the PKL's top defenders of all-time and is the second highest tackle points-scoring player in the competition. He has racked up a total of 326 tackle points from 112 matches in seven seasons of the PKL.
Pahal has been nicknamed 'The Hawk' for his ability to trap and catch raiders with his deadly holds from the right-corner position. He was signed by the Dabang Delhi KC franchise in the inaugural season of the PKL in 2014. Pahal stayed there for three seasons till he moved to Puneri Paltan in PKL Season 4.
In the next season of the PKL, he was picked up by the Bengaluru Bulls with whom he had a successful season before moving back to Dabang Delhi KC in PKL Season 6.
The closest Pahal has got to winning the PKL title was in the recently concluded Season 7 of the competition where Dabang Delhi KC lost to Bengal Warriors. Despite being with a lot of successful PKL sides, 'The Hawk' has not been able to capture the PKL trophy yet.
#4 Deepak Niwas Hooda - All Rounder
Regarded as one of the fittest players to ever grace the Pro Kabaddi League mats, Deepak Niwas Hooda is another high-profile name that appears on this list. Deepak Niwas Hooda is the highest scoring all-rounder in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League over the seven seasons. He has scored a massive 943 points in 123 matches played over the course of his time in the Pro Kabaddi League.
Hooda began his PKL career with the Telugu Titans as the second highest prized player in the inaugural PKL auction in 2014. He played two more seasons for the Titans before moving on to the Puneri Paltan for a couple of seasons. Hooda has played for Jaipur Pink Panthers for the past couple of seasons captaining the side for much of his duration.
Deepak Niwas Hooda established himself as the secondary raider alongside Rahul Chaudhari in Telugu Titans and the duo almost led the side to glory in Seasons 2 and 3 eventually losing out to settle for the third place. In his first year at Puneri Paltan, Hooda again lost out in the semifinals settling for the third spot for the third year running.
Hooda leads the league in Do-or-die raid points cementing himself as the best raider in pressure situations. He will be raring to go and add the PKL trophy to his loaded trophy cabinet with the Indian national side over the past few years.
#3 Rahul Chaudhari - Raider
Rahul Chaudhari is one of the most popular names that has emerged from the PKL over the years. With his raiding exploits, Chaudhari has become a fan favourite. He is one of the most prolific raiders in the PKL.
Chaudhari was the lynchpin of the Telugu Titans attack in six PKL seasons, terrorising opposition defences with his speedy running-hand touches. In seven PKL seasons, Chaudhari has garnered a massive tally of 955 raid points in 122 matches. He is on course to become the second PKL player to breach the 1000-raid-point mark after Pardeep Narwal.
With the Telugu Titans, Chaudhari twice came close to winning the PKL titles, each time fiishing in third spot after losing in the semifinals. After an underwhelming PKL season with the Tamil Thalaivas in 2019, Rahul Chaudhari will no doubt be aiming to win his maiden PKL trophy in Season 8 of the competition.
#2 Manjeet Chhillar - All Rounder
Manjeet Chhillar is arguably the best defender in the history of the PKL. He leads the Tackle Points leaderboard with a haul of 339 points in 108 matches played across seven PKL seasons. It comes as a huge surprise that Chillar hasn't been able to win a PKL title yet considering the strong squads he has been a part of.
Chhillar was a part of the Bengaluru Bulls for the first few PKL seasons. There he was at his top of his abilities, functioning as the third raider as well as donning his primary role as the cover defender. The Bulls finished in fourth position in PKL Season 1. They had a fabulous run in PKL Season 2, going all the way to the final where they lost to eventual champions U Mumba.
The defender then moved to Puneri Paltan for the third PKL season where he could not reach the final of the competition. Despite qualifying for the playoffs in both the PKL seasons, Puneri Paltan lost in the semis and finished third on each occasion.
Chhillar has since seen a downturn in the PKL. In the last three PKL seasons, he has played for the Jaipur Pink Panthers and most recently for the Tamil Thalaivas, but has failed to qualify for the PKL playoffs. The experienced all-rounder will hope to win the PKL trophy before he calls it a day.
#1 Ajay Thakur - Raider
Ajay Thakur is another high profile name that makes up our list of players to have missed out on the PKL trophy so far in their careers. Thakur has been a consistently top performing raider in the PKL, gaining plaudits for his ability to deliver crucial raid points.
With a tally of 790 raid points in 115 matches played over seven seasons, Ajay Thakur is the fourth-highest scoring raider in PKL history.
He was a part of the strong Bengaluru Bulls squad led by Manjeet Chhillar in the first two PKL seasons. The Bulls were, however, unfortunate to miss out on the PKL title as they lost to U Mumba in the Season 2 final.
Thakur went on to play for Puneri Paltan for the next few PKL seasons but the trophy has eluded him as his team finished in the third spot for two consecutive years.
Since PKL Season 5, Thakur has played for the Tamil Thalaivas where he has missed out on the playoffs spot despite continuing to raid with the proficiency that he is known for. It will be interesting to see if Thakur is able to win the PKL title before drawing the curtains on his storied playing career.Published 01 Jul 2020, 20:13 IST