The Season 8 of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) brought about a big change. Some of the experienced raiders took a step back, making room for a fresh set of defenders who really stood out. These defenders not only showed their toughness but also impressed everyone with their smart strategies on the big stage. This time around, the spotlight shifted from raiders to defenders.
One standout player in the world of Kabaddi is Mohammadreza Shadloui, who continued Iran’s strong presence and made a lasting impact while wearing the Orange Armband.
When we look back at the eighth season, we see a shift in the dynamics. The older, more experienced raiders didn’t shine as much, and instead, a new group of defenders took the spotlight. Here, we bring you the top 5 defenders who truly made a difference in PKL Season 8, as presented by Parimatch News.
Sumit Sangwan: U.P. Yoddha’s Rising Star
Breaking Records and Building Walls
Sumit Sangwan, the left-corner defender, emerged as U.P. Yoddha’s highest-scoring defender, surpassing the seasoned captain Nitesh. Despite a slightly lower tally in Season 8 (62 tackle points), Sumit’s prowess in building an impervious defensive wall with fellow Yoddhas is commendable.
Jaideep Dahiya: Haryana Steelers’ Debutant Dynamo
From K7 Kabaddi to PKL Stardom
Debutant Jaideep Dahiya from Haryana Steelers made a remarkable entry into the Top 5 defenders list in his maiden PKL season. Rattling raiders’ escape routes, Jaideep secured the Orange Armband and notched up an impressive 66 tackle points in 22 appearances. His unique position as the only cover defender in the list adds a special flavor to his individual campaign.
As the Kabaddi arena evolves, the spotlight on defenders becomes more pronounced. The diverse skills and performances showcased by defenders in PKL Season 8 underscore their crucial role in a team’s pursuit of the championship title.
Also Read: India’s Top 5 Kabaddi Players of All Time
Saurabh Nandal (Bengaluru Bulls): Consistent Dynamo
Mastering the Right-Corner: Bengaluru’s Defensive Stalwart
Saurabh Nandal emerged as Bengaluru Bulls’ defensive mainstay, standing tall beside Pawan Sehrawat. Surpassing his previous season’s performance, the right-corner defender secured an impressive 69 tackle points, averaging 2.9 per match with a formidable 56% strike rate.
Nandal’s Defensive Leadership
When others faltered, Nandal assumed a leadership role in the defensive lineup, carrying the Bulls on his back. His collaboration with the Bulldozer Mahender Singh, combining an initial ankle hold and a furious finish, proved to be a nightmare for opposing raiders.
Sagar Rathee (Tamil Thalaivas): The Unexpected MVP
From NYP to MVP: Sagar’s Remarkable Journey
Sagar Rathee’s stellar performance in the previous season earned him the trust of the Tamil Thalaivas’ management. Retained as a New Young Player (NYP), he defied expectations to become the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Sagar’s Dominance in Left-Raiders’ Territory
In the defensive strategy, Sagar took charge of handling left raiders entering the right zone. His impeccable execution of pitch-perfect ankle holds led him to hold the Orange Armband throughout the league stage, outshining even the legendary Surjeet in the Thalaivas’ defense.
Mohammadreza Shadloui (Patna Pirates): The Iranian Dynamo
Heir to Sultan’s Legacy: Shadloui’s Dominance
In a deja vu from the previous edition, the top spot in the tackle points tally of PKL Season 8 once again belongs to an Iranian left-corner defender. This time, it’s the heir to Sultan Fazel Atrachali’s legacy – Mohammadreza Shadloui.
Shadloui’s Record-Breaking Campaign
Patna Pirates invested significantly in the 22-year-old, and he justified every penny with an astounding 89 tackle points and a 56% strike rate. Shadloui also etched his name in history by breaking the record for the most ‘High 5s’ in a season, securing an impressive 10 in this campaign.
Grand Finale Drama
Despite a spectacular debut season, Mohammadreza faced a bittersweet Grand Finale, ending in the Pirates’ first-ever PKL final defeat.
In addition to the top three, special mentions are due for defensive luminaries who left their mark on the PKL stage: Rinku Sharma, Sombir Gulia, Nitesh Kumar, Parvesh Bhainswal, Surjeet, Manjeet Chhillar, and others. Their defensive prowess added an extra layer of excitement to PKL Season 8.
From Saurabh Nandal’s consistent dynamism with Bengaluru Bulls to Sagar Rathee’s unexpected journey from New Young Player (NYP) to Most Valuable Player (MVP) with Tamil Thalaivas, and finally, Mohammadreza Shadloui’s Iranian legacy with Patna Pirates – each defender showcased a unique skill set, adding a layer of complexity and burstiness to the game.
Nandal’s leadership in Bengaluru, Rathee’s dominance in the left-raiders’ territory, and Shadloui’s record-breaking campaign not only elevated their respective teams but also enriched the league’s narrative.
In the thrilling conclusion of the season, the Pirates faced defeat, marking the end of a defender’s relentless pursuit of victory. This grand finale encapsulated the highs and lows that define the journey of a true warrior.
A special spotlight on defensive maestros like Rinku Sharma, Sombir Gulia, Nitesh Kumar, Parvesh Bhainswal, Surjeet, and Manjeet Chhillar. Their exceptional skills injected burstiness into PKL Season 8, blending moments of defensive brilliance with a rich tapestry of excitement on the kabaddi mat.
In honoring these defensive titans, we acknowledge not just their individual feats but also the collective spirit they infused into the PKL arena. Season 8 showcased a fusion of talent, creating a legacy that will inspire future generations to approach kabaddi with a blend of tenacity and strategy.
As we bid adieu to Season 8, the echoes of ankle holds and High 5s resonate in the hearts of kabaddi enthusiasts worldwide. The legacy of these defenders will endure, serving as a beacon that encourages the embrace of kabaddi’s art with unwavering determination. Until the next season unfolds, let the spirit of this season linger on.