Pro Kabaddi 2019, Team Preview: Patna Pirates
VIVO Pro Kabaddi League 2019 will start from 20th July 2019. The seventh season will see all teams will play each other twice in the group stage with no zonal classification in this PKL edition. All the matches will begin from 7:30 PM IST and the home legs of all teams will commence from every Saturday of a new week.
In the auction, Siddharth Desai became the highest paid player of seventh PKL edition. He received a massive amount of ₹145 lakhs from Telugu Titans. Puneri Paltan retained Nitin Tomar (₹120 lakhs) by execising their FBM card.
Rahul Chaudhari (₹94 lakh), Monu Goyat (₹93 lakh), Sandeep Narwal (₹89 lakh) were signed by the Tamil Thalaivas, UP Yoddha, and U Mumba respectively.
Patna Pirates are undoubtedly the most successful team of the league history. The Pirates have defended their title not only once but twice. They have won the title three times (March 2016, July 2016 and October 2017) which is the most by any in PKL history.
Patna Pirates retained their star raider Pardeep Narwal, Vikas Jaglan, and right corner all-rounder, Jawahar Dagar ahead of the PKL 7 auctions. In the auction, they signed Surender Nada (₹77 lakh), Neeraj Kumar (₹44.75 lakh), South Korean raider Jang Kun Lee (40 lakhs), Iranian raider Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou Mahali (35 lakhs).
Undoubtedly, 'Dubki King' Pardeep Narwal will be the face of their raiding unit. The highest raid point scorer of the league, Pardeep has 858 raid points in his career. He has carried the raiding department of the Pirates single-handedly which shows his dominance in the league with every passing year.
Having played for the Bengal Warriors in five seasons of the league, South Korean Jang Kun Lee has shifted teams and will be partnering Pardeep Narwal at the Pirates. He is known for his ability to pinch bonus points and also the occasional toe touch as well.
Iranian raider Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou Mahali will also feature for the Pirates. He has no playing experience in PKL as this will be his debut season. He has represented Iran in many international kabaddi tournaments and is also a 2018 Asian Games gold medalist.
Other young raiders namely, Purna Singh, Naveen, Mohit, and Ashish are also in the team. They could get a chance if the team's go-to men fail to perform.
However, the glaring issue to address is the lack of back-up options for Pardeep Narwal and Jang Kun Lee. Coach Ram Mehar Singh will have his task cut out to assemble a quality squad if either of the two are out injured or lack form during the season.
One of Patna's most important signings is that of left corner defender Surender Nada, who will be imperative to the team's campaign along with Jaideep and Jawahar Dagar. While Nada is certain to occupy the left corner, it remains to be seen where Jaideep slots into the defensive unit.
Patna retained Jaideep through the FBM card and he could play as Nada's substitution or could come as a left cover defender which depends upon how the management decides to use him in the defensive unit.
Another defender on the board is a right cover, Neeraj Kumar. Patna spent an enormous ₹44.75 lakh on this right cover defender. Neeraj Kumar was in fine form during the 66th Senior Nationals while representing the Services team.
Yet another issue to address would be the lack of a quality left cover defender. Either Vikas Jaglan or Jaideep could play as the left cover of the team but with both not heavily suited to the position, it could be a slight concern.
Hadi Oshtorak, Vikas Jaglan, and Ravinder are the all-rounders in the team. The team management may opt to play Hadi Oshtorak, going by his positive show last season and what he brings to the equation overall on both fronts while Vikas Jaglan will have a role to play if he gets picked as a defensive all-rounder in the initial seven.
Overall, Patna Pirates' raiding unit wears a strong outlook with the likes of Pardeep Narwal, Jang Kun Lee and Iranian Mohammad Esmaeil. However, the unstable defense, which was a major reason for Patna's early exit last season could come to hit them hard yet again.
Yet, with Pardeep proving to be a one-man show from the previous seasons, his form will have a massive say on how the Pirates finish at the end of the season.
Probable starting 7 for Patna Pirates:
Jawahar Dagar (Right Corner), Mohammad Esmaeil Maghsoudlou (Right In), Neeraj Kumar (Right Cover), Pardeep Narwal (Center), Vikas Jaglan (Left Cover), Jang Kun Lee (Left In) and Surender Nada (Left Corner).