A very famous saying, probably applicable in all team sports, goes something like, “Offense gives you highlights, DEFENCE wins you games.” Rightfully so, the statement has its significance in the game of Kabaddi as well. Although defence is a team effort in Kabaddi more so than the offence (raid), key defenders make a massive difference in the results. Although Raiders are glorified in the league, players and coaches know it for real that the game cannot be won without great defenders. Here are 7 Pro Kabaddi Defenders to watch out for ahead of Season 7.
1Nitesh Kumar (U.P. Yoddha)
UP Yoddha’s Nitesh Kumar is one of the critical upcoming stars of the PKL. Going into his 3rd PKL season as the captain of his side, Nitesh is among the youngest captain in PKL history. This comes after his historic performance in the 6th season. He recorded a century of tackle points at an unbelievable average of 4 tackle points per match. This remains the first and only time that a defender could achieve the feat in a single season. This extraordinary feat had 92 tackles and 8 High 5s. Also, he was instrumental in carrying his side to Qualifier 2.
His inescapable Ankle Holds and impeccable timing make him a significant threat on the defensive end. This what the 21-year old had to say when asked about this new challenge ahead of PKL season 7, “Being the youngest captain is not added pressure for my game and performance. My goal for this season is to ensure that I put in 100% into my game and prove myself as well as ensure that the team makes it to the finals.”
2“Sultan” Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba)
Fazel Atrachali is the most successful foreign defender in the PKL history. The U Mumba champ rose to prominence after finishing atop in tackle-point-scorers in season 4. His game has now matured by leaps and bounds since then. The Iranian is among the most feared defenders in league with 235 tackle points in the league till now. Besides being a stalwart defender, he has entered the season continuing the captaincy of the team. In the 23 matches last season, Sultan finished with 83 tackle points with six High 5s and three Super Tackles while being the discussion for the best defender for a long time. Atrachali was also an integral part of the Gold medalist Iran team in Asian Games 2018.
3Parvesh Bhainswal (Gujarat Fortunegiants)
Parvesh Bhaiswal along with Sunil Kumar is probably the best defensive duo in the league. Their defensive dominance helped the Gujarat Fortunegiants in their journey to the PKL Finals 2018. Parvesh Bhainswal has proven time and again that he is second to none when it comes to tackling a raider in his tracks. With 86 tackle points in season 6, he finished as the second-most successful defender. The Gujrati fans and team believes that the duo still holds the key to another successful season. Parvesh with his lethal short block will play a significant role in the Fortunegiants hope for claiming their first title in the upcoming season.
4Sandeep Dhull (Jaipur Pink Panthers)
There are very few defenders as reliable as Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Sandeep Dhull when it matters the most. He has proven his clutch potential in pressure situations on various occasions. An experienced and proven defender, Sandeep finished the previous season with 67 tackle points including 5 Super Tackles. The left corner would be hoping to make the difference this season for the Panther and repeat its first season’s championship run.
5Vishal Bhardwaj (Telugu Titans)
Vishal Bhardwaj had a breakthrough campaign as a 20-year old with 71 tackle points in the season 5 with an average of 3.22 per game. He led the Titans defence showing extraordinary maturity in Season 6, ending with 60 tackle points from 17 games @ average of 3.53. Also, he scored the most Super Tackles along with five High 5s in the season. Just three years in the league, the youngster has become a star defender with his ability to surprise raiders with Ankle and Thigh Holds when least expected.
6Mahender Singh (Bengaluru Bulls)
Mahender Singh aka Bulldozer is an integral part of the Bengaluru Bulls ever since his breakout performance in season five. In the last season, he went on to pick 63 tackle points while playing a crucial role in the Bengaluru Bulls’ title victory. The 23-year old is one the most promising defenders in league with his 51.06% strike rate in tackle. He has picked 120 tackle points at an average of 2.47 tackle points per match in the 46 games that he played in the league.
7Ravinder Pahal (Dabang Delhi KC)
Ravinder Pahal aka ‘The Hawk’ is a top defender for Dabang Delhi KC and has been around in the league since the beginning. This will be his second season with Delhi after returning in the last season. After representing the Puneri Paltan and Bengaluru Bulls in Season 4 and 5, Pahal returned to the Dabang Delhi previous season with a blast. He picked 59 points from 22 matches he played in 2018. Pahal is among the most experienced and reliable players in the league. He has 263 tackle points to his name from the 89 matches that he played in the league. Pahal also stands second in PKL history in total raid points behind Manjeet Chillar. The right corner will again play a vital role on the defensive end for his franchise.