The 6th edition of the Pro Kabaddi League is all set to begin on Sunday with defending champions Patna Pirates set to lock horns with Tamil Thalaivas in the opening game, while U Mumba will play Puneri Paltans in their opening encounter. Before the three months long and grueling season gets underway we take a look at captains of all the teams.
Pardeep Narwal (Patna Pirates)
This player needs no introduction known as the ‘Dubki King’, Pardeep has been a thorn in a flesh for the other sides in the tournament. He has set multiple records against his name in 5 seasons so far. One of the highlights of his career was the 8-point raid he made against the Haryana Steelers in the last edition which left all the spectators dumbfounded.
The raiding machine has been with Pirates for past four seasons and will be looking to silence his critics when he leads the side to the mat in Season 6. Patna Pirates will begin their PKL season campaign on October 7 as they lock horns with the Tamil Thalaivas.
Ajay Thakur (Tamil Thalaivas)
Team India skipper will look to put behind the disappointment of 2018 Asian Games and will once again lead the much experienced Tamil Thalaiva side for the upcoming season. In its debut season last year the side from Tamil Nadu finished bottom of their group having played 22 matches played, in which they could only manage 6 wins and 2 ties, losing 14 games.
The 32-year-old individually had a good season scoring 222 points from the 22 matches played. The man from Himachal will have a very experienced outfit this season and will be hoping to lead his side to the playoffs in season 6.
Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba)
The Iranian is back with his old team (U Mumba) and will take over the leadership after Anup Kumar was signed by Jaipur Pink Panthers. Fazal recently lead Iran to the gold medal in 2018 Asian Games and will be looking to carry his form for the Mumbai franchise in the upcoming season. The Iranian had played for Mumbai in the first two seasons before moving to Patna Pirates and Gujarat Fortunegiants.
Fazal is the only foreign player who has got the chance to play in four PKL finals. He has also lifted the PKL trophy twice, once each with U Mumba and Patna Pirates. He has so far played 56 matches in PKL and scored 152 tackle points and with the help of his experience, U Mumba will be looking to make it to the final.
Rohit Kumar (Bengaluru Bulls)
The player needs no introduction, one of the finest raiders alongside Pardeep Narwal, Rohit Kumar has been handed captain’s armband for the second season running. His calm presence in pressure situations will help the Bangalore side in the upcoming season.
Rohit has been with the Bulls since Season 4. He has previously won the title of the PKL with Patna Pirates in season 3 and was also adjudged the Most Valuable Player in that edition.
The 28-year-old has all the experience and ability to lead his team to glory and will be coming out all guns blazing this time around and lead the team to glory.
Rishank Devadiga (UP Yoddha)
Another experienced campaigner who has proven himself in the league in the past 5 seasons. Having played and lifted the title with U Mumba, Rishank was brought by UP Yoddha last season where he scored 165 points from 21 matches and formed a formidable partnership with Nitin Tomar.
This year he will be leading the team from the front and will be hoping to put up a better show for the side in the upcoming season.
Anup Kumar (Jaipur Pink Panthers)
@IamAnupK taiyaar ho rahe hai mat par dhamake ke liye! Aap taiyaar ho? #RoarForPanthers #JaipurPinkPanthers #JPP #Jaipur #Kabaddi #ProKabaddi #VivoProKabaddiLeague #ProKabaddiLeague #India #VivoProKabaddi #LetsKabaddi #KhelKabaddi #PKL #LePanga #StarSports #Panther pic.twitter.com/oB2NMu4Ikc
— Jaipur Pink Panthers (@JaipurPanthers) September 3, 2018
The captain cool of Pro Kabaddi League led the U Mumbai side for past five seasons, but this year he will be donning the Pink jersey of Jaipur Pink Panthers. Kumar won the Asian Games gold medal in the 2010 Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon editions and was the captain for India’s famous World Cup win in 2016 when it was held in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Last season Anup Kumar scored 135 points in 21 matches but could not lead U Mumba to the playoffs. With the likes of Deepak Niwas Hooda, Mohit Chillar and Sandeep Kumar Dhull along his side, Kumar will be hoping to lead the Jaipur outfit to the glory.
Girish Ernak ( Puneri Paltans)
The player from Maharashtra has been with the Pune side since Season 5. The left corner defender has previously played for Bengal Warriors and then Patna Pirates with whom he won PKL titles. Last season he picked up 64 points from 21 games for Paltans but failed to help them go past the finish line as they lot the final to Patna Pirates. This year the defender will be looking to lead the side to glory.
Joginder Narwal (Dabang Delhi)
The defender replaces Iranian Meraj Sheykh as Delhi’s captain. Sheykh led the team during season 4 and season 5 of the PKL. Narwal who previously played for teams like U Mumba, Bengaluru Bulls, and Puneri Paltan will hope to use his experience to take Delhi to the top. Delhi is the only franchise to not have never made it to the playoffs ever since the inception of the league.
Vishal Bhardwaj (Telugu Titans)
The defender was retained by the Titans and was handed the captains armband for the upcoming season. Vishal who has been with the side from Season 4 had a disappointing outing in the previous edition – where the Titans finished 5th in Zone B.
The 21-year-old defender has proved his nerves of steel when the team needed him the most. He had a good season last year picking up 71 points for his side and this time too he will be looking to use his ankle holds to great effect and stop his opponents from picking up points.
Surender Nada (Haryana Steelers)
The experienced defender was once again chosen to lead the side for the upcoming season. The 31-year-old who played for the team in blue and white last season as well was the highest scoring defender with 80 points. The ankle hold specialist plied his trade with U Mumba for the initial three seasons of PKL before moving to the Bengaluru Bulls for season 4. Last year the team finished 3rd but were knocked out by champions Patna Pirates in the eliminator, but this year with some incredible players added to the side Nada will be hoping to take the team to the finale.
Sunil Kumar (Gujarat Fortunegiants)
Our captain, Sunil Kumar, is all geared up for the game ?
Send in your best wishes to the team in the comment section below! ♥ pic.twitter.com/979ejwH5IY
— Gujarat Fortune Giants (@Fortunegiants) October 2, 2018
The young defender will be leading the side this season with Sukesh Hegade donning the Tamil Thalaivas jersey this season. Sunil was the second-best defender for The Fortunegiants last season with 57 tackle points. With Iranian-Duo of Abozar Mohajer Mighani and Fazel Atrachali no longer part of the side this season Sunil will be hoping to put up strong show for the side and repeat last years performance.
Surjeet Singh (Bengal Warriors)
— Bengal Warriors (@BengalWarriors) September 15, 2018
Under the guidance of this experienced defender, The Warriors emerged as the table toppers of Zone B as they won 11, lost 5, and tied 6 of their 22 matches played in the league stage. They were eventually knocked out by Patna Pirates in a close encounter.
The 28-year-old who specializes in blocks and dashes scored 79 points from 24 matches last season out of which 76 were tackle points. Having played for title-winning U Mumba team in the second season, Surjeet will look once again guide the Warriors to a terrific season and take the team to the final.