The South Asian Games are set to kick off their 13th edition in the towns of Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal on 1st December 2019 and will carry on till the culmination on 10th December 2019.
Men's Kabaddi event will be one of the most talked-about sporting events at the South Asian Games with India being the prime contender to win the gold medal. The Indian kabaddi team has won nine gold medals so far in ten editions that the sport has been a part of the South Asian Games with the lone exception being at the 1993 Dhaka Games when Pakistan clinched the gold medal.
The 12-member Indian kabaddi team to represent the nation was announced a few days ago with a star-studded lineup led by all-rounder Deepak Niwas Hooda.
In a stellar squad, there are some players who manage to stand out as match-winners on their own. We take a look at three such members of the Indian Kabaddi team.
#3 Nitesh Kumar - Defender (Right Corner)
The right corner defender Nitesh Kumar, who plays for the UP Yoddha franchise in the Pro Kabaddi League has quickly developed into one of the most lethal tacklers in the game. Kumar possesses the ability to pull off stunning ankle holds at the right corner along with his trademark double thigh hold to trap even the best of the raiders in the world.
He was identified by the Pro Kabaddi League authorities in the Future Heroes Programme and joined the UP Yoddha as a New Young Player (NYP) in PKL Season 5. After a fair start to his career, he managed to make his chances count and struck gold in Season 6.
Kumar's tackling ability backed by a well-rounded side saw the UP Yoddha reach the playoffs in Season 6 as the defender became the first man in Pro Kabaddi League history to score 100 tackle points in a single season. He will be expected to deliver in the Indian blues as well by the coaches as he forms a strong corner combination with another ankle hold specialist Surender Nada.
#2 Pardeep Narwal - Raider
When it comes to match-winning and raiders, we need not look further beyond the "Record Breaker" Pardeep Narwal. The Patna Pirates man has been a steady member of the Indian kabaddi team since the past few years and has won three championships (Kabaddi World Cup, Kabaddi Masters Dubai and Asian Kabaddi Championships).
Pardeep Narwal set the league on fire with his displays for the Patna Pirates leading them to an unprecedented three titles on the trot from Seasons 3 to 5. On his way to achieve PKL glory, he was christened the "Dubki King" for his ability to outfox defenders with the use of the Dubki skill and garner multiple points.
His speed and ability to pick up points at an almost unbelievable strike rate has made him the top-scoring raider in Pro Kabaddi League with more than 1000 raid points to his name. He has delivered for the Indian side as well with his chances and will surely be a threat to all the opponents at the South Asian Games.
#1 Pawan Kumar Sehrawat - Raider
One of the fastest rising stars in the Kabaddi world in the past couple of years has been Bengaluru Bulls' star raider Pawan "Hi-Flyer" Kumar Sehrawat.
Pawan had a mellow debut back with the Bulls in Season 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League and learned his ropes for the next three seasons with a stint at the Gujarat Fortunegiants as well in Season 5. His true breakout arrived when he rejoined the Bengaluru Bulls for Season 6 and took the league by storm.
Almost singlehandedly, Pawan Sehrawat led the Bengaluru Bulls to the title producing one of the best comebacks ever for a Pro Kabaddi League team in the Season 6 final and was the leading scorer of raid points that year. He followed it up again in Season 7 with a 346 raid points season finishing as the league's top-scoring raider for the second season in a row.
Sehrawat has a never-before-seen raiding ability characterized by the right mix of speed and agility that seems to stun the defenders who are never sure how he will plan to escape their tackle attempts. He will be a player to watch out for at the South Asian Games 2019 and will certainly play a huge role in India's fortunes in Nepal.