Bigger and better! When the Pro Kabaddi League missed its January slot early in 2017, that's exactly what the league organisers promised to come back with. The number of teams participating in the league went up from eight to 12, subsequently leading to more players being involved. This move indicated that the kabaddi revolution was indeed about to go up a notch in the country.
However, if there were any lingering doubts, they were quashed after a mind-boggling auction ahead of the fifth season. A whopping Rs 47 crore was spent by the 12 franchises as they went hell for leather to grab the best kabaddi superstars.
Nitin Tomar became the costliest player in the history of Pro Kabaddi after being bought for a huge sum of Rs 93 lakh. That's a meteoric rise from Rs 12.8 lakh that were spent on Rakesh Kumar to make him the costliest player at the end of the first-ever Pro Kabaddi auction in 2014. The sport has surely come a long way since, and on the way it has provided the Indian sport fraternity with some household names.
With a host of the players being picked up by the franchises in the auction gone by, here's a look at the top five buys from 2017 PKL auction.
Kashiling Adake to U Mumba for Rs 48 lakh
Rs 48 lakh is a lot of money. It's the sum that would make even the richest think twice before spending. But when it gets you the services of Kashiling Adake for your kabaddi team, you could be pardoned for opening the cheque book. The raider is a towering figure that can intimidate the tightest of defences in kabaddi. His long reach means no player is ever safe on the mat, as the young raider from Satara is extremely agile. Adake can score via a toe touch, running hand touch, or even outmuscle a defender that tries to stop him in his tracks, making him one of the most complete raiders in the game.
He is among a handful of players in PKL history to have scored over 400 points in the four seasons so far, and to get him at a price of Rs 48 lakh is an absolute steal. The 24-year-old raider will benefit from having the experienced Anup Kumar on his side which will make him even more dangerous. His exclusion from India's World Cup squad raised eyebrows and Adake would be keen to prove a point or two. The most successful raider from season two could will be raring to unleash himself on the kabaddi mat again.
Nilesh Shinde to Dabang Delhi for Rs 35.5 lakh
Nilesh Shinde might be hitting the twilight of his career, but he remains one of the greatest defenders in the sport. In the four seasons, his Bengal Warriors side didn't manage to win the trophy, but one of the things that stood out from the Kolkata outfit was Shinde's captaincy. A captain plays a major role in kabaddi and to have a leader with a sound head on his shoulders can be decisive.
Dabang Delhi have lacked exactly that in the past, and must be credited for addressing that problem straight away. Shinde is the perfect man to lead a team of talented young players at Dabang Delhi as they aim to put an end to their struggles in the PKL so far. Playing at the right corner position in defence, Shinde's ankle hold is among the most feared in the sport and with him present on the mat, even the best of raiders will think twice before venturing in the left side of the Dabang Delhi half. At a price of just Rs 35.5 lakh, Shinde is among the most shrewd buys of the auction.
Khomsan Thongkham to Team Haryana for Rs 20.4 lakh
Few would know that Khomsan Thongkham has been a part of PKL before. He was a member of the Puneri Paltan side that finished third in season four. But there was no way even the most ardent of kabbadi fans would have acknowledged his presence in the competition as he didn't feature at all for the Pune outfit. However, he got another chance to make a mark in the kabaddi world, when he led his Thailand side to the Kabaddi World Cup semi-final in October last year.
Khomsan was among the best players in that tournament. He gave every team, including India, a tough time on the mat. The Thai ended as the second-most successful raider in the World Cup scoring 56 raid points, a tally only bettered by the excellent Ajay Thakur. At Rs 20.4 lakh, the newcomers Haryana have picked up a top raider who has proven his mettle against the very best in the world. His performance in the World Cup would have done him a world of good and you can expect him to become one of the most influential foreign players in the league, and help Haryana in the quest for glory in their debut campaign.
Mohit Chhillar to Team Haryana for Rs 46.5 lakh
Mohit Chhillar was the costliest player in the last PKL auction when he was bought by the Bengaluru Bulls for a price of Rs 53 lakh. For some strange reason, his price fell by Rs 6.5 lakh in the latest auction. The price drop though saw Haryana profiting big time. With a dearth of specialist corner defenders in the auction, the newcomers managed to secure the services of arguably the best right corner defender in kabaddi.
Mohit has 170 defence points to his name, a tally matched by very few in the league. He has one of the deadliest ankle holds in the sport and has a reputation of bringing down raiders in the blink of an eye. The 23-year-old defender has forged a great partnership with Surender Nada over the years, and with the duo reuniting once again in the Haryana camp, it's certain to make them a team to watch out for in this year's PKL.
Rishank Devadiga to Team Uttar Pradesh for Rs 45.5 lakh
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Rishank Devadiga's kabaddi career has been all about that. U Mumba fans would have lost count of the number of times the young raider has bailed them out of seemingly hopeless situations to set them on the path to victory.
A do-or-die raid specialist, Devadiga is one of the most potent raiders in the all-important third raid. Another player whose exclusion from the Indian squad for the Kabaddi World Cup took many by surprise, Devadiga would be keen to continue his rich vein of form from the last two seasons with his new team Uttar Pradesh. With the likes of Nitin in the ranks too, Devadiga could flourish in a partnership with the man from the Services. The 23-year-old raider has showed an upward curve in his performances from the first season and the Uttar Pradesh think-tank would feel they have acquired a top player at the price of Rs 45.5 lakh.
Updated Date: May 24, 2017 15:00 PM