The year 2019 was memorable for the sport of kabaddi, where a lot of young talents emerged into the limelight and showcased their skills. Some raiders left an impression by blazing raid points consistently, while some defenders influenced many with their rock-solid defense.
The year kicked off with Bengaluru Bulls winning their maiden title in PKL Season 6 Final over Gujarat Fortune Giants. On the other hand, the Indian Railways kabaddi team with a star-studded line-up won the 66th Senior Nationals after six years. They continued to assert their dominance in the 3rd Pandit Deen Dayal tournament as well.
The action continued as Mashal Sports held its first-ever PKL All-Stars match before the commencement of Season 7. The World 7 side upset Indian 7 in the exhibition match and proved why Kabaddi was growing as an international sport.
Bengal Warriors and Dabang Delhi K.C. qualified in the finale for the first time in PKL history, where both teams showed why they deserved the title this year with their all-round display. Warriors defeated Dabang Delhi in a thriller courtesy of the Iranian Mohammad Nabibakhsh, who led the team to win its maiden title.
The year ended on a high note with both the Indian men's and women's kabaddi teams earned gold medals at the 13th South Asian Games. Both sides remained unbeaten in the tournament and depicted their dominance in the sport yet again.
As the year 2019 is about to conclude, let's take a look at the top-5 players based on their performances throughout the year and their vital contributions to the teams.
#5 Nitesh Kumar
The centurion of tackle points in the sixth season of Pro Kabaddi, Nitesh Kumar has proven, why he is the best right corner defender from India at present. The ankle-hold specialist Nitesh enjoyed his debut year in Season 5 from the Future Kabaddi Heroes program and ended as a force to reckon with in the defense.
Nitesh's brilliant run continued in the 66th Senior National Kabaddi Championship and 3rd Pandit Deen Dayal Kabaddi tournament when his team Services ended as the runners-up on both occasions. His ability to perform well under critical situations has turned him into one of the finest defenders of today.
He earned the captaincy hat for UP Yoddha in the seventh season of PKL. Nitesh formed a deadly combination with Sumit, finishing as the best corner duo of the season. Nitesh's performed his role as the captain to perfection as he led UP Yoddha to the playoffs with a well-balanced squad.
Nitesh picked up 75 tackle points in 23 matches with six High-5s to his name. He became the fastest player to clinch 150 tackle points in PKL history in just 46 outings this year. Nitesh showed the ability to remain composed and execute his tackling skills with precision.
A deserving candidate, Nitesh earned a call-up in the Indian Kabaddi team for South Asian Games 2019. He led the defense with Vishal Bhardwaj on multiple occasions, which helped India win the competition with ease. Nitesh's outstanding form depicted why he could be an icon in the days to come.