Name: Surjeet Narwal
Position / Player type: Right cover defender
Key move / Strengths: Surjeet is known for his powerful blocks that can take down even the most fierce raiders in the game. In addition, the timing of his blocks is usually perfect and that makes opponents wary of him. Surjeet has been in excellent form in 2016 and hence his selection for the Indian team doesn't come as a surprise.
Past record: He was part of the gold medal-winning Indian team at the 2016 South Asian Games.
Kabaddi happened to Surjeet Narwal naturally, being a citizen of the kabaddi-crazy Sonipat district in Haryana. Kabaddi was initially just a passtime for the young Surjeet, who only realised the glory the sport could bring to him and his family when he saw several kabaddi champions from his district bag gold for the country at the Asian Games. The Haryana-born defender joined the Services team at the age of 17 and there was no looking back from there.
Surjeet couldn't be part of the first two seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), but was signed up by Puneri Paltan for the third season when the Services players were allowed to participate in the glamorous league. Considered a stalwart in the Services defense, Surjeet had little problems in reproducing that quality in the PKL as he racked up an impressive 48 tackle points that season to end up as the third most successful defender in season three.
The Services defender couldn't replicate the same level of success when he moved to U Mumba in season four, but still managed to score a respectable 37 tackle points. This tally though was enough to get him in the top-10 defenders on the leaderboard that season. The 25-year-old also played a crucial role in India's gold-medal winning performance in the South Asian Games earlier in the year.
The current Indian team boasts a number of top defenders, but Surjeet's form and quality will come in very handy. In the past year, he has shuttled between four teams: Indian national team, Services, Puneri Paltan and U Mumba — and performed admirably everywhere. This ability to settle quickly into a new setup would help Indian kabaddi coach Balwant Singh rotate his options.
Surjeet's year started with a gold medal at South Asian Games, and the young Haryana defender will be hoping the year ends on another golden note.
With inputs from Star Sports