Star Sports Pro Kabaddi, in its inaugural edition, was an unchartered territory. Little did people know about it and sparser was their knowledge about the nuances. With newer rules, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the franchisees themselves were a little unsure about what to expect and how to strategise. A minimum of 14 matches later though, they had gotten a hang of things – so while the frenzied audience welcomed the tournament in its 2nd coming 3 days back, the teams had spent a year to reshuffle and prepare their squads.
The team from Delhi especially underwent a lot of tinkering. Apart from getting in a new Head coach – Arjuna Awardee and former Asian Games winner, Honnappa C Gowda, they have also drafted in, what it seems like a supremely gifted bunch, one which is slightly low on experience but is extremely gifted and talented.
Ranging from the nearby Haryana to places as far as Tamil Nadu and Nepal, the Dabang scouts left no stone unturned to rope in these 5 players:
Junior national champion for five consecutive years and clinching the bronze medal thrice as part of the UP senior team in senior nationals for the last 3 years, Avnish is known to be a rock in defence. Hailing from Kakda Gaon in Muzaffarnagar district, the 26-year-old attributes his initiation to the game to elder brother Navin Kumar, who currently works at CISF and dreams of representing the country soon.
Just 21 years old, Sandeep, as his peers believe is one for the future. Hailing from Baghpat district of UP, Sandeep is a skillful raider who can change the whole tempo of the game in minutes. Interestingly he grew up idolizing fellow Dabang Surjeet Narwal and rather unsurprisingly wants to emulate the former’s tally of 113 points from last season.
A talented left corner, his initiation in to the league wasn’t unexpected. Touted as one of the best players at his position, he has been a livewire for his state in the nationals and would be looking to replicate the same for the Dabangs this season.
G S Manikanta
A fan of Jackie Chan, this versatile defender from Tamil Nadu has a characteristic move called the ‘Mundu Charge’. Unorthodox at his best, Manikanta got glued to the game while watching other players during the first edition of PKL. He felt inspired after watching statemate D. Suresh Kumar’s stint with Patna Pirates and vows to outperform him this year.
Hailing from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, this young raider was a revelation in Delhi’s opener vs Telegu Titans. Having made a mark for Delhi in the 2010 Senior Nationals he is vying to support stars such as Surjeet Narwal and Kashiling Adake as the resilient Dabangs aim to improve on their 6th place finish from last year.