Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has grown to become one of the most popular sporting leagues in the country since its inception in 2014. Over the seven seasons played so far, five teams have won the championship - Jaipur Pink Panthers, U Mumba, Patna Pirates, Bengaluru Bulls, and Bengal Warriors. Patna Pirates are the only side to have the title on multiple occasions - thrice in consecutive seasons (3 - 5).
With a large number of matches played throughout seven seasons, there have been a lot of notable individual performances on both sides of the mat - attack and defence. A large share of the limelight is dominated by the raiders but defenders are a key component of the team who are as important to the success of a team.
Taking that thought into consideration, we take a look at five such memorable performances from defenders in the history of the Pro Kabaddi League.
Top 5 defensive performances in PKL history
#5 Mahender Singh - Bengaluru Bulls (10 Points)
Mahender Singh is a defender who has made his mark on the league over the past three seasons with his 'bulldozing' performance for the Bengaluru Bulls. He is known for his ability to generate stupendous power with his timely blocks and dashes from the cover position catching any opposition raider unaware.
In a total of 67 matches that he has featured in for the Bulls, Mahender has racked up a sizeable tally of 181 tackle points at an average of 2.7 tackle points per match.
In the Bengaluru Bulls' Season 5 fixture against the UP Yoddha, Mahender was at his deadly best producing a 'Super 10' of Tackle points. He inflicted two Super Tackles on his way to the landmark as he completed the tally of 10 tackle points in just 12 attempted tackles as the Bulls defeated Yoddha with a 38 - 32 scoreline.
#4 Surender Nada - U Mumba (10 Points)
One of the most renowned defenders in the PKL, Surender Nada is arguably the best left corner defender in recent times to have stepped on the mat.
Surender Nada began his PKL career with the dominant U Mumba side where he formed a deadly corner defence partnership with Mohit Chillar. The defensive lineup of U Mumba during the initial seasons was undoubtedly the best in the league leading the side to the title under the leadership of star raider Anup Kumar.
Despite almost missing three seasons due to injury concerns, Surender Nada has scored a massive 222 tackle points in 71 matches at an average of 3.13 tackle points per match.
Nada produced his career-best performance during a crucial match as U Mumba took on Patna Pirates in the Season 2 semifinals. With just 11 attempted tackles, Nada scored 10 tackle points including one Super Tackle as he tormented the Pirates' raiding unit not allowing them any scope. U Mumba restricted the Pirates to just 18 points on the board booking their berth in the final with a 35 - 18 win.
#3 Sombir Gulia - Telugu Titans (10 Points)
Sombir Gulia had made his debut for the Telugu Titans in Season 4 of the PKL but could not make headway into the Starting 7. However, he was given the chance in Season 5 and made the most of it establishing a stable young corner partnership with Vishal Bhardwaj.
Gulia possesses a very deadly ankle hold and used it to his best abilities when the Telugu Titans faced off against the Tamil Thalaivas led by their star man Ajay Thakur supported by K Prapanjan in raids. He made his mark on the match taking the two lanky raiders out of contention as he helped the Titans by inflicting three Super Tackles in crucial situations.
With a total of 10 attempted tackles, Sombir Gulia scored 10 tackle points on the night ending the match as the highest-scoring player on the mat in that PKL match.
#2 Neeraj Kumar - Patna Pirates (11 Points)
Neeraj Kumar was a highly coveted pickup by the Patna Pirates in the PKL 2019 Auction as they spent a mammoth 44.75 Lakhs INR to acquire him for the PKL Season 7.
Neeraj proved his mettle and came good on the faith shown by the Pirates' management finishing the season as their top-scoring defender with 59 tackle points in 22 matches just finishing outside the Top 10 tackle points scoring defenders in the entire league.
The best performance by Neeraj Kumar came in the Patna Pirates' encounter against the Puneri Paltan at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Patna. Neeraj was in fine form from the get-go scoring an early Super Tackle to level things on the scoreboard after his side were trailing. He managed to get his 'High 5' within the first half of the match.
Neeraj continued the momentum into the second half with his sturdy dashes and blocks as he managed to equal the record for most points scored in a single match finishing with 11 tackle points, matching Manjeet Chillar's feat from PKL Season 4.
#1 Manjeet Chhillar - Puneri Paltan (11 Points)
The highest-scoring defender of all-time in PKL history, Manjeet Chhillar is a name that is synonymous with brute strength and tackling proficiency in Indian Kabaddi.
Manjeet Chhillar has scored a massive tally of 339 tackle points in his storied career of 108 matches since the inception of the league. He has played for four franchises throughout seven seasons and is widely regarded as one of the best defenders as well as all-rounders in the PKL.
Manjeet produced his career-best defensive performance in PKL Season 4 when his Puneri Paltan faced off against the Bengaluru Bulls in a league match. Playing in the cover position, Manjeet produced his trademark blocks and dashes against the Bulls' raiders and made life difficult for the duo of Rohit Kumar and Pawan Kumar Kadian.
With a total of 12 tackle attempts, Manjeet picked up a tally of 11 tackle points on the night with no Super Tackles making his feat more impressive in comparison to other performances on the list.