Pro Kabaddi League 2017: From Surender Nada to Amit Hooda, a look at the best defenders
With the 5th edition of the Pro-Kabaddi League promises to be bigger than ever is just around the corner, have a look at the top 5 defenders of the tournament
The ilk that is entrusted with the responsibility of guarding their territory on the kabaddi mat – are called defenders – but their job is to attack anybody who crosses the baulk line with an intention of taking him or one of his teammates down. The defenders form the backbone of the team and every time there is a requirement, sometimes even without it, they throw their bodies on the line and perhaps play the most important role in a team’s victory. However they do not end up garnering a lot of accolades for their efforts. They simply continue to go about their job, thanklessly.
With the 5th season less than a week away, it is only fair to have a look at the top defenders to watch out for in the Pro-Kabaddi League:
Barely anything gets past the former Iranian captain, Fazel Atrachali. The strong left-corner defender is known for his aggressive body blocks and his run-in dash into the raiders. Atrachali is a two-time Pro Kabbadi Champion with two different teams – U Mumba and Patna Pirates – and understandably it didn’t take long for the new entrants, Gujarat Fortune Giants, to go for the ‘Best Defender of Pro-Kabbadi League 4’ in the auctions. The franchise picked the 25-year old on Day 1 of auctions as a Priority Pick from Category A priced at Rs 35 Lakhs. Atrachali will have a familiar company in Abozar Mohajer Mighani, his national teammate on the right corner, who will be making his PKL debut in 2017. Iran finished second after India on successful tackles in the 2016 Kabbadi World Cup and the Iranian duo was the main cause behind it.
With highest successful tackle percentage (62.5) Atrachali earned 52 tackle points in the previous edition, the most by any player.
The young and talented Amit Hooda was a standout performer for Jaipur Pink Panthers in the last edition. Another ankle-hold specialist to feature in the list of defenders, the right-corner defender will be seen snitching challengers of the Tamil Thalaivas this year. The former Patna Pirates player is an abrasive defender, who might not look as burly as his counterparts but he makes up with his quick and well-coordinated movements on the mat. The 21-year-old topped the 2016 season with the highest successful tackle points (48) with a success percentage of over 50.
Dharmaraj Cheralathan is a Kabaddi Hall of fame inductee, but behind his success, a lot of toil and hard work has also gone in. The 42-year old spent most of his childhood farming with his father in Tamil Nadu. Now he is a recipient of nine gold medals for India, and was the member of the Indian National Kabaddi team, that won gold at the 2016 World Cup. Before he won the PKL trophy with Patna Pirates in the previous edition. He is an asset to whichever team he plays for. Cheralathan can defend on right as well as left corner, but operates mostly as a cover defender. The former Bengaluru Bulls defender was bought by the Pune franchise for Rs 46 lakhs in the auction and will be seen blocking the opponents raiding Puneri Paltan this season.
Cheralathan’s consistent performances over the years enabled him to pick up an average of 2.56 tackle points per game in his 59 encounters in PKL. He also owns the bragging rights of the most number of super tackles (8) in the previous edition to his name.
The lynchpin of Bengal Warrior’s back line is not your everyday name when you think of the best defenders in PKL, but the ankle hold specialist has been instrumental in most of Warriors’ win. The 37-year-old has plugged away with consistent performance year after year and offers experience and leadership ability apart from the solid defence. One of the key reason why Shinde's numbers don't appear as significant is chiefly due to Warrior’s inconsistency and the matches he missed due to injury in the 3rd season. The 5th season will be the first time that the 2008 Asian Games winner will turn out for the Delhi outfit, a team that hasn’t had too much to show in the previous 4 years.
Strong grip, brawny body tackle and an ankle hold which is virtually impossible to break out from are all a part of Surender Nada’s repertoire. 2015 PKL winner will be seen patrolling the left corner for Haryana Steelers in the upcoming edition. The 27-year old was an integral part of the India’s National Team that won a gold medal in Kabaddi World Cup 2016 as well as another gold in South Asian Games in the same year. Haryana Steelers picked Surender Nada as a Priority Pick in the Pro Kabaddi League auction for Season 5. Nada will be accompanied by his former U Mumbai partner in crime in Mohit Chillar on the other flank, with the two combining forces the JSW-owned team as far as the defences are concerned they have covered their defensive bases.
A total of 59 players were retained across all three categories with 22 in the Elite Retained Players (ERP), six in the Retained Young Players (RYP), and 31 in the New Young Players (NYP) category.
In a high scoring week in Pro Kabaddi League, six of the nine matches ended with the winning team scoring over 40 points.
Jaipur Pink Panthers and UP Yoddha were the biggest gainers in the past week of Pro Kabaddi League 2021-22.