PKL: Young stars carry teams as league enters crucial stages


BENGALURU: In Week 5 of Pro Kabaddi League Season 8, teams such as UP Yoddha, Puneri Paltan and Haryana Steelers reminded the fans that the tournament is far from over.

The week was dominated by all-around team performances. Haryana’s defensive trio of Jaideep, Surender Nada and Mohit proved why they are rated amongst the best with defensive shutdowns. The raiding trio of Aslam Inamdar, Mohit Goyat and Nitin Tomar also performed admirably for coach Anup Kumar’s Puneri Paltan.

Bengal Warriors have managed to turn things around after a slow start to the season. The defending champions will have to thank their captain Maninder Singh for leading the charge with 40 raid points in three matches. They defeated Jaipur Pink Panthers by 19 points in their previous game. The warriors will need to maintain this momentum to defend their title and Maninder Singh will no doubt be their key weapon.

Jaipur’s mini-revival came to a halt this week with 2 defeats and a tie. Their star raider Arjun Deshwal was the only positive with his reliable raiding performances. He scored 38 points in these 3 matches but didn’t get the support he deserved.

He continued to be ice-cold during high-pressure Do-or-Die raids and kept picking toe-touches despite his teammates’ struggles. The Panthers missed Deepak Hooda in the last few games and the experienced star’s absence has affected the raiding department.

The third best raider of the week was Haryana Steelers’ Vikash Kandola. The fast-moving left raider was a pain for the defences as he secured 36 points from 4 matches. Haryana have been lethal in their attack with Vinay and Rohit Gulia also stepping up their game.

The Steelers’ Jaideep and Mohit have formed a reliable duo in the cover position. Their strength, courage and skills have added an extra dimension to Haryana’s kabaddi this season. Jaideep is the current orange-sleeve holder with the maximum number of tackle points. He continued the good work in week 5 with 18 points from 4 matches. Mohit got 16 and is on Jaideep’s heels for the most tackle points.

The ever-reliable Sandeep Kandola scored 13 points from the left corner position for the Telugu Titans who still have just 1 win in the tournament. The defender is certainly not at fault for the defeats though.

He and raider Adarsh T have been the only shining stars in the dark sky that clouds the Titans. Pune’s right corner also had 13 points justifying coach Anup Kumar’s decision to replace Baldev Singh in the position.

Rohit Gulia had a slow start to the season which saw coach Rakesh Kumar dropping him for a few matches. But the young athlete regained his form in the recent matches and was the best performing all-rounder of week 5. He scored 16 points in three matches, bringing out those massive jumps over defenders.

But the week’s most entertaining all-rounder was certainly Sandeep Narwal. The seasoned campaigner turned back the clocks with his powerful raiding for Dabang Delhi K.C. in the absence of Naveen Kumar. He scored 14 points in two matches and was ably supported by his teammate Vijay who clinched 13.

Bengal’s mini-renaissance has partly been due to the form of their Iranian all-rounder Mohammad Nabibakhsh. He scored 13 points in 3 matches for the Warriors and will be vital for coach BC Ramesh’s team in the upcoming matches.

Mohit Goyat was the emerging raider of the week for his magnificent performances for Pune. His ability to keep calm in Do-or-Die situations coupled with his incredible pace on the mat makes him a start for the future. Aslam Inamdar and Mohit Goyat’s form will be very important for Pune in their bid to secure a playoff spot.

Young Jaideep with his outstanding work in Haryana’s cover position is the emerging defender of the week while Sahul Kumar’s all-round brilliance in an otherwise struggling Jaipur team makes him the emerging all-rounder.

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